Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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Frequently Asked Questions About Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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To make an appointment for Whooping Cough vaccination, call 705-474-1400/1-800-563-2808 ext 2252.

What is whooping cough (pertussis)?

Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) is a disease that is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It causes a very serious infection of the lungs and breathing airways. Whooping cough is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing fits that often makes it hard for people to breathe.  After coughing over and over, someone with whooping cough often needs to take a deep breath, which causes a "whooping" sound.

Whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but it can be very serious and even deadly, in babies who are less than one year old, especially if they have not been vaccinated or if they are under-vaccinated. The best way to protect yourself and those most vulnerable to whooping cough is vaccination.

Who can be most seriously affected by whooping cough?

It is most serious for infants, children under one year of age, and women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy, especially if they have not been immunized.

How do I protect my children and myself from whooping cough?

The best way to protect you and your children is to be immunized. Parents, grandparents, other family members and caregivers of infants and young children should get vaccinated if they are not up to date with their whooping cough vaccinations. Individuals should receive five doses in childhood, one dose in their teens and one dose in adulthood. The vaccine is given at:

  • Two months, four months, six months and 18 months of age.
  • Four to six years of age.
  • 14-16 years of age.
  • One dose in adulthood.

How do we check our immunization status?

Here is how:

  • Check your immunization record;
  • Contact your health care provider; or
  • Contact the Health Unit at 705-474-1400 /1-800-563-2808 ext 2252.

I am pregnant, can I get immunized against whooping cough?

Yes, but only if you are 26 weeks pregnant or later (third trimester).

Can I be immunized against whooping cough if I am sick?

A mild illness with a low-grade fever does not prevent you from receiving your immunization.

Is this vaccine free?

Yes.

Who do I contact for additional information?

For questions about your immunization record or vaccines, please contact the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Team at 705-474-1400/1-800-563-2808 ext 2252.

For general questions about pertussis, please contact the Communicable Disease Team at 705-474-1400/1-800-563-2808 ext 2229.

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

EARLY STAGE. Symptoms are usually mild at first and are like the symptoms of a common cold, including a runny nose, a minor fever and mild coughing.  Sometimes, very young infants do not cough at all. Instead, they may have pauses in their breathing (this is called "apnea"). Because whooping cough in its early stages appears to be nothing more than a cold, it is often diagnosed only after the symptoms get worse.

LATER STAGE. After one to two weeks, thick mucus begins to accumulate inside the airways, which causes severe coughing fits. Coughing over and over can cause babies and children to:

  • Gasp for breath (with a "whooping" sound) or gag.
  • Have difficulty breathing, eating or sleeping.
  • Turn blue from lack of oxygen.
  • Vomit.

Listen to the sound of whooping cough (pertussis) in a baby

Teens and adults may cough so hard that they pass out or break a rib. Because whooping cough can last for 10 weeks or even longer, it is often called the "100-day cough".

I think I have whooping cough, what should I do?

Contact your health care provider or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. Call ahead before going to a health care provider's office or the hospital, so that they can prepare and protect their other patients.

I have been told that my child has whooping cough, what do I do now?

Your child should stay home until they are no longer contagious. They should not attend school, childcare, or recreational/summer camps. They should stay away from public places and other social settings, and avoid contact with infants, young children, and women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The immunization status of other family members should be checked and the vaccine received if needed.

I have been told that I have whooping cough, what do I do now?

You should stay home until you are no longer contagious. Do not go to work. Stay away from public places and other social settings. Avoid contact with infants, young children, and women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The immunization status of your other family members should be checked and the vaccine received if needed.

I was told to isolate myself, what does that mean?

You need to stay away from others so that you do not spread the pertussis bacteria. Do not attend school, childcare or work; do not take public transit nor attend group activities/social gatherings until told to do so.

When is whooping cough most contagious?

It is most contagious during the first 2 weeks. A person is no longer contagious after 5 days of antibiotic treatment. If antibiotics are not prescribed or taken, a person is usually contagious for up to 3 weeks (21 days).

How is whooping cough treated?

Antibiotics shorten the period of contagiousness but do not reduce symptoms except when given during the incubation period or in the early catarrhal stage (first 2 weeks).  Immunization with Pertussis vaccine is the most effective method of prevention.

Can I spread whooping cough even if I do not have a bad cough?

Yes. You can have whooping cough without realizing it and infect others. It is especially important for people who are going to be around babies or pregnant women to know as they could infect others. They should make sure they are vaccinated and stay away from high-risk people when they have a runny nose or cough.

 

For questions about your immunization record or vaccines, please contact the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Team at 705-474-1400/1-800-563-2808 ext 2252.

For general questions about pertussis, please contact the Communicable Disease Team at 705-474-1400/1-800-563-2808 ext 2229.

North Bay
Parry Sound
Burk's Falls

681 Commercial Street 705.474.1400
8:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday

70 Joseph Street Unit #302 705.746.5801
8:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday

17 Copeland Street 1.800.563.2808
By Appointment Only