Pertussis, a respiratory illness commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria attach to the cilia (tiny, hair-like extensions) that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause airways to swell.
Pertussis, a.k.a. whooping cough
- Pertussis is also known as "whooping cough" because of the "whooping" sound that is made when gasping for air.
- Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; this disease is sometimes known as the "100 day cough."
- Pertussis can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens, and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in babies.