Pertussis (Whooping Cough)


Whooping cough is an infection caused by a bacterium called bordetella pertussis. This bacterium is spread to others through contaminated droplets in the air with sneezing and coughing.

The illness has three stages:

  • Early stage (catarrhal phase)
    At first there is often a sore throat. Within a day or so a mild, dry ordinary cough with high temperature and runny nose develops.
  • Main coughing stage (paroxysmal phase)
    After 10-14 days from the start of the illness, the cough gets worse and becomes paroxysmal. This means there are bouts of intense coughing. Some children may stop breathing at the end of coughing bout and turn blue for a short period of time. You may only have a few bouts each day but some people have up to 100 bouts per day. The average is about 12-15 bouts per day. It is common to vomit at the end of a bout of coughing. This main coughing stage of the illness usually lasts at least two weeks, and often longer.
  • Easing stage (convalescent phase)
    The bouts of coughing then ease gradually over a period which can last up to three months or more. In some countries whooping cough is known as the cough of 100 days.


Whooping cough can be complicated by lung infection and in very rare cases by brain damage due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain. These complications are most usually confined to very young infants less than six months of age.

Dr. Ahmad Zia, M.D.

Kaiserdamm 97
14057 Berlin

Phone:   030 - 81 30 30 37
Fax: 030 - 55 65 31 73