Pertussis is an acute infection of the respiratory tract caused by Bordetella pertussis. The word pertussis means “violent cough,” which aptly describes the most consistent and prominent feature of the illness. The inspiratory sound made at the end of an episode of paroxysmal coughing gives rise to the common name for the illness, “whooping cough. The Chinese name for pertussis is “the 100-day cough,” which accurately describes the clinical course of the illness.


1.The catarrhal stage(1-2 weeks)

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Cough

2.The paroxysmal stage(2-4 weeks)

Coughing occurs in paroxysms during expiration, causing young children to lose their breath. This pattern of coughing is needed to dislodge plugs of necrotic bronchial epithelial tissues and thick mucus. The forceful inhalation against a narrowed glottis that follows this paroxysm of cough produces the characteristic whoop

3.Convalescent Stage

This  is marked by gradual resolution of symptoms over 1-2 weeks. Coughing becomes less severe, and the paroxysms and whoops slowly disappear. Although the disease typically lasts 6-8 weeks, residual cough may persist for months.


  • Bruised or cracked ribs
  • Abdominal hernias
  • Broken blood vessels in the skin or the whites of your eyes
  • Pneumonia
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Dehydration or weight loss due to feeding difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage


 Infection with B. pertussis is initiated by attachment of the organism to the ciliated epithelial cells of the nasopharynx. Attachment is mediated by surface adhesins. At the site of attachment, the organism multiplies, producing a variety of other toxins that cause local mucosal damage.



A nose or throat culture,PCR


The following tips on dealing with coughing spells apply to anyone being treated for whooping cough at home:

  • Get plenty of rest. A cool, quiet and dark bedroom may help you relax and rest better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water, juice and soups are good choices. In children, especially, watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry lips, crying without tears and infrequent urination.
  • Eat smaller meals. To avoid vomiting after coughing, eat smaller, more-frequent meals rather than large ones.
  • Clean the air. Keep your home free of irritants that can trigger coughing spells, such as tobacco smoke and fumes from fireplaces.
  • Prevent transmission. Cover your cough and wash your hands often; if you must be around others, wear a mask.



Leave a Comment