Whooping cough: symptoms, causes and methods of prevention. How do you contact this respiratory infection?

Whooping cough: symptoms, causes and methods of prevention. How do you contact this respiratory infection?
Whooping cough: symptoms, causes and methods of prevention. How do you contact this respiratory infection?

Whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection, is characterized by a strong cough and wheezing. Previously considered a disease of childhood, it now mainly affects children and adults with weak immunity. Deaths are rare, but most commonly occur in infants, making it crucial that pregnant women and those in close contact with children be vaccinated against whooping cough.


Whooping cough usually occurs within seven to 10 days, with initial symptoms similar to a common cold. These include runny nose, nasal congestion, red and watery eyes, fever and cough. Over time, symptoms worsen, with thick mucus building up in the airways, leading to uncontrollable coughing.

Severe attacks can cause vomiting, a red or blue face, extreme fatigue, and a high-pitched sound. However, many people do not develop that characteristic sound, and a persistent cough may be the only sign. Infants may not cough, but may struggle to breathe or temporarily stop breathing.

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Whooping cough, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, is contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with the respiratory fluids of an infected person. If not vaccinated, 9 out of 10 people who come into contact with a household member who has the infection will contract the infection, according to HealthDirect.

The infection is contagious for 3 weeks from the onset of the cough or until 5 days of antibiotics have been administered. To prevent the spread of infection, people should not go to daycare, school or work and consult a doctor if they are not sure they can return to work or school.

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Who is at risk of whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a serious health problem that affects anyone of any age, with higher risks for certain groups such as those who have not been vaccinated, those who have not received a booster shot in the last 10 years, babies under 6 months and those who live in close proximity to a person with this disease. Babies are most at risk because they are not old enough to receive all doses of the vaccine.

If you or your child has had close contact with someone with whooping cough, see your doctor who can prescribe antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection. As a notifiable condition, doctors must inform local health authorities of cases they observe, allowing them to help control an outbreak.

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A doctor will assess your symptoms and tell you if you have been in contact with someone who has whooping cough. They may recommend tests such as a nose or throat swab or a blood test to determine if you have whooping cough. It is best to do these tests when the first symptoms appear and do not delay seeking medical attention if you suspect you have whooping cough.

Prevention methods

Vaccination is the best protection against whooping cough because it prevents most serious diseases and reduces the number of cases in the community. Vaccines are available as a combination vaccine, and doctors will work out which one is best for you based on your age and situation.

In order to protect our health and those around us, it is essential that we are properly informed and act responsibly in the face of threats such as whooping cough. Vaccination remains the most effective method of prevention, reducing not only the risk of disease, but also the spread of the disease in the community. Through awareness, education and appropriate preventive measures, we can help create a healthy and safe environment for all members of society.

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The article is in Romanian

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