What is whooping cough (pertussis)?
Whooping cough can be a very serious respiratory tract infection that is very easily spread (highly contagious). Whooping cough usually starts off with cold-like symptoms, and develops into a cough. A bout of coughing is often followed by a deep intake of breath making the characteristic ‘whoop’ sound suggested by the name.
Children and babies with a severe case of whooping cough will need to be hospitalised and can die from the infection.
Share one family's sad experience with whooping cough and find out why it's so important to vaccinate against this potentially fatal infection (from the Tonic TV series produced with assistance from NPS).
Whooping cough mainly affects the lining of the airways. If left untreated, the infection can progress from an upper respiratory tract infection (affecting the nose, throat and windpipe) into a lung infection (pertussis pneumonia) that affects the bronchi.
Read about how to prevent whooping cough.