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Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is an infection that causes severe and sudden coughing attacks. Pertussis can cause serious complications, especially in infants.
Pertussis spreads easily from person to person (is contagious). It spreads through the droplets that are sprayed in the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Your child may not have symptoms until 3 weeks after he or she is exposed to the bacteria that causes pertussis.
Children, especially infants, with severe cases of pertussis may need to stay at the hospital. Mild coughing may continue for months after the infection is treated. This may be due to the remaining soreness and inflammation in the lungs.
If your child has a coughing attack:
Prevent the spread of infection
Pertussis can be prevented with a vaccine and later booster shots. Talk with your child's health care provider about the pertussis vaccine.
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.).
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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