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Whooping Cough, also known as Pertussis, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system. It causes severe coughing bouts that can last for two to three months or more & young children in particular can become very ill, and in rare cases, even prove fatal.
Vaccinations can protect babies and children from the whooping cough, there are currently 3 vaccinations which protect them from the infection.
Whooping cough vaccines in pregnancy – is normally given after 20th week of pregnancy and protects your baby during the first few, precious weeks of their life.
6 in 1 vaccine – given routinely to babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age
4 in 1 pre school booster – given to children at 3 years and 4 months of age
The vaccines protect infants and children from whooping cough in the early stages of their life, when they are particularly vulnerable & at high risk of infection, however, it does not offer lifelong protection.
Countries at risk
Whooping cough is common all over the world and is highly contagious.
Vaccines can protect babies & children from whooping cough in their vulnerable early years of life. Pockets of outbreaks can occur and some countries like Australia request evidence of a recent booster vaccine for adults visiting newly born babies.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and infectious from approx. 6 days after becoming infected until 3 weeks after the coughing bouts start. It is therefore recommended not to travel when you are infectious.
Signs and Symptoms
The initial symptoms of whooping cough are similar to the common cold:
- Runny nose
- Red watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Mild cough
- Raised temperature
Intense coughing bouts start to develop around a week later.
During a coughing spell, the face may turn red and you or your child may gasp for breath – this may cause a ‘whoop’ sound when breathing in, although not everyone will develop this.
Coughing usually produces thick mucus and could also result in vomiting.
Infants and young children can also briefly turn blue (cyanosis) if they have trouble breathing.