Pertussis which is commonly called whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe. A deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath. While whooping cough can affect people at any age, it can be deadly for infants and young children.
It is caused by bacteria known as Bordetella pertussis which is gram negative, areobic coccobacillus.
Classic signs of pertussis are a paroxysmal cough, inspiratory whoop, and vomiting after coughing. The cough from pertussis has been documented to cause subconjunctival hemorrhages, rib fractures, urinary incontinence, hernias, post-cough fainting, and vertebral artery dissection.
Different stages Of Disease
1. Incubation period: is typically seven to ten days in infants or young children, followed by
2. Catarrhal stage : in which there is runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and symptoms of the common cold and then finally
3. Paroxysmal stage : characterized by multiple, rapid coughs.
The initial diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms. However, when the symptoms are not obvious, pertussis may be difficult to diagnose. In very young infants, the symptoms may be caused by pneumonia instead.
To know for sure, the health care provider may take a sample of mucus from the nasal secretions and send it to a lab, which tests it for pertussis. While this can offer an accurate diagnosis, the test takes some time, and treatment is usually started before the results are ready.