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Pertussis

Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County

What is Pertussis? 

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. It is named for the "whooping" sound made by small children who have the disease.

Pertussis is dangerous for very young children. More than half of infants under 1 year of age who contract the disease are hospitalized. About 10% of children with pertussis also develop pneumonia.

In 2016, there were colse to 18,000 cases reported from pertussis nationally.

Pertussis Symptoms 

The symptoms of Pertussis are:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Mild fever (under 102°F)
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting caused by excessive coughing
  • Coughing (especially a bad cough lasting more than 2 weeks)
  • Shortness of breath

What Does Pertussis Sound Like?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some examples of what pertussis (whooping cough) can sound like:

CDC Pertussis Sounds

How Does Pertussis Spread? 

Pertussis is spread by an infected individual coughing or sneezing near others who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. The vaccine for pertussis is not lasting as long as doctors originally thought, so even if someone has been fully vaccinated for pertussis as a child, they can still get the disease. This is why many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings or parents who might not know they have the disease.

Prevention 

The best prevention is vaccination!

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • If possible, keep infants away from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

Vaccination Schedule for Pertussis

Age

Vaccination Type

2 months

DTaP

4 months

DTaP

6 months

DTaP

Between 15 and 18 months

DTaP

When a child enters school (4 to 6 years old)

DTaP

11 or 12 years old or an adult who has not received a Tdap

Tdap booster

What is the difference between DTaP & Tdap?

An upper case letter signifies a full dose; a lower case letter means the dose has been reduced.

DTaP   =    a full dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular (contains only part of the bacterium) Pertussis

Tdap   =    a full dose of Tetanus and a reduced dose of diphtheria and acellular pertussis