Minn. — Pertussis is a contagious bacterial illness spread
when a person coughs or sneezes. Those at greatest risk of
medical complications include infants less than 1 year old;
patients with chronic respiratory illnesses, including
moderate to severe asthma; women in the third trimester of
pregnancy; and patients with compromised immune systems.
are similar to a common cold, such as runny nose, nasal
congestion, red, watery eyes, fever and cough; however, the
cough gradually becomes a severe hacking cough. In young
children, this can lead to repeated coughing followed by a
high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a
Clinic experts advise if you or your child has had a cough for
seven or more days, contact your medical provider. Individuals
who are suspected to have pertussis must be tested and, if
diagnosed, will be treated with antibiotics.
Jacobson, M.D., a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children’s
Center, advises, "Those exposed to pertussis should stay
home and away from friends, neighbors, school and work until
the tests results are negative. If a person is tested
positive, he or she should remain quarantined for five days
while he or she is being treated with antibiotics."
diagnosed with pertussis who have had the illness fewer than
21 days should be treated with antibiotics to prevent the
spread. Without antibiotic treatment, the patient will be
contagious for up to 21 days, says Jacobson.
that the best way to prevent pertussis is with the tetanus,
diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. Those 11 years and
older who have not had the Tdap vaccine should receive it now.
Also, all pregnant women should receive additional doses of
Tdap during each pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks.