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Whooping cough (pertussis)

whoop; whooping; cough; pertussis; ;

Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs which causes long bursts of coughing (up to several minutes long). In young children the coughing spell often ends in a 'whooping' noise when the child can finally take a breath in.

Children can have several coughing spells each hour, including while they are sleeping. They can also go on having coughing spells for many weeks (up to about 3 months for some).

Older children and adults can have whooping cough without the 'whooping' sound. They have coughing spells lasting a minute or more, followed by several minutes of not coughing.

Whooping cough can be life threatening for babies. Newborns are not immune and they often get extremely sick. Babies who get whooping cough often get it from others in their family, including their parents.

It is now recommended that pregnant women, and others who will be close to a baby get a whooping cough booster even if they have been immunised before. This includes grandparents, older children in the family, other adults who live in the house, child care workers and health care workers. Women can get the booster when they are planning a pregnancy, during prengnacy or as soon as their baby is born. Other family members can be immunised during the pregnancy.

The vaccine for babies and young children, and children aged 10 to 15 years, is free in Australia, as is immunisation for pregnant women, but it is not free for other adults.

To find out more about whooping cough have a look at these topics on other Australian sites

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network 

Raising Children Network  

Department of Health South Australia

Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government. '

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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