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Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is an infection that causes severe and sudden coughing attacks. Symptoms of pertussis can last for up to 6 weeks, even though the cough starts to get better. It may take as long as 6 months for the cough to go away completely.
Pertussis is contagious. This means that it spreads easily from person to person. It spreads through the droplets that are sprayed in the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes.
These symptoms develop at the beginning of the infection. After 1–2 weeks, the cold symptoms get better, but the cough worsens, and severe and sudden coughing attacks frequently develop. During these attacks, people may cough so hard that vomiting occurs.
Mild coughing may continue for months after the infection is treated. This coughing may be due to the remaining soreness and inflammation in the lungs.
If you have a coughing attack:
Prevent the spread of infection
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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