Know the Signs of Whooping Cough

O Health Boy Coughing

Outbreaks of whooping cough, or pertussis, have occurred across the U.S. in recent years, especially where clusters of children have not been vaccinated against the disease.

Whooping cough starts like a common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing and a mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin and continue for weeks as a series of coughing fits. Whooping cough can cause violent and rapid coughing until the air is gone from the lungs and one inhales with a “whooping sound.”

In babies, the cough can be minimal or nonexistent. They may instead have life-threatening pauses in breathing, or apnea.

The recommended whooping cough vaccine for children is called DTaP, which protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends one dose of DTaP for pregnant women between their 27th and 36th weeks. For best protection against whooping cough, children need five doses of DTaP — one at each of the following ages:

2 months
4 months
6 months
15-18 months
4-6 years


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