Pertussis is a bacterial illness that is easily spread person to person by coughs and sneezes. People sick with pertussis may have severe coughing attacks that can last for months.
Pertussis Information for clinicians, pediatricians, infection preventionists and emergency department staff
Pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Some people may develop a low-grade fever, but this tends to be rare. (Listen to what pertussis in an infant and adult sounds like: Sound of Pertussis)
Vaccination is the best defense against whooping cough. However, the protection from vaccines wears off over time and few teens and adults receive booster vaccines to continue protection. As a result, pertussis continues to circulate, causing hospitalization and death of young infants who are too young to get their shots. The pertussis vaccine is safe for children and adults. The pertussis vaccination series can begin when an infant is 6 weeks of age. Infants, however, are not completely protected by vaccination until the first series of three shots is complete. Children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten (ages 4-6) and a Tdap booster by age 11 or 12. All teens and adults are also recommended to receive one Tdap booster especially if they have contact with any infants. Pregnant women may be vaccinated against pertussis before pregnancy, during pregnancy or after giving birth. Fathers may be vaccinated at any time, but preferably before the birth of their baby.
Other prevention measures include:
- If you are sick with a respiratory illness, limit contact with other people. It is also important to keep infants away from people who are sick with a respiratory illness.
- If someone who has close contact with you is diagnosed with pertussis, it is recommended that you take appropriate antibiotics even if you are in good health and fully vaccinated.
- If you have an illness with a bad cough or a cough that lasts a long time, it is recommended that you go to see a healthcare provider, that you ask about pertussis, and find out if you should be tested for it.
For more information about the DTaP or Tdap vaccination, contact the Department of Health in Duval County
If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with pertussis, contact the Department of Health in Duval County Epidemiology Program at (904) 253-1850 for more information.
For more information on pertussis, visit the websites below or call your DOH in Duval at 904-253-1850.