UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pertussis

Keywords: Pertussis, Whooping Cough (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/9/2009 by Heidi-Marie Kellock, MD
Click here to contact Heidi-Marie Kellock, MD

Pertussis (Whooping Cough):

  • Caused by B.pertussis and B.parapertussis
  • Incubation period = 6 days
  • Three stages:  Catarrhal (low-grade fever, rhinorrhea);  Paroxysmal (classic "whooping" cough);  Convalescent (resolution of symptoms over a ~2wk period)
  • Full course of the disease = on average 6-8 weeks, although convalescent stage may last MONTHS
  • Erythromycin may be effective early on, but no effect once in the paroxysmal stage
  • Complications are most common in neonates and infants, and notably, the elderly
  • Complications include apnea, hypoxia, pneumonia, encephalopathy, pneumothorax/pneumomediastinum (from paroxysms in the setting of severe mucus plugging)


Nelson's Essentials of Pediatrics, 5th Edition