Pertussis is spread by:
- Nose and throat droplets (fluid or mucus) when an infected person sneezes or coughs
- Touching the discharge (fluid or mucus) from the nose or throat of infected people
Pertussis is highly contagious the first two weeks, before the violent coughing starts. If a person with pertussis takes antibiotics, the contagious period is usually five days. Without antibiotics, the contagious period may last up to 3 weeks.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms can take six to 20 days to develop after contact with a contagious person, but usually take nine to 10 days to appear.
- Runny nose
- Red watery eyes
- Mild fever
- Irritating cough
One or two weeks after the symptoms listed above, a person with pertussis will have violent coughing. The coughing lasts several minutes, followed by a crowing or “whoop” sound. Babies less than six 6 months of age and children, teenagers and adults who have had some vaccines may not make this sound. The coughing often ends with discharge of clear mucus and/or vomiting (throwing up).
The cough may continue for one or two months or longer. A child can turn red from the effort of coughing or blue from not breathing properly. Babies younger than six months of age and people with severe infection may need to be hospitalized.