Quick self-diagnosis test
Introduction from Dr Doug Jenkinson
Symptoms (sounds and video)
Who catches it?
How do you catch it?
A printout for your doctor
Send a comment to Dr J
Keyworth study of whooping cough
About Dr Doug Jenkinson
Sufferers' comments and experiences
Whooping cough in babies is very serious, especially in the first 4 months before their pertussis vaccine shots have become effective.
If you suspect it at this age you must get medical attention immediately.
It will start with a snuffly cold and cough and perhaps a slight fever. Over a period of a few days the cough becomes more persistent, prolonged and tiring. There may be a tendency stop breathing after a bout of coughing and maybe even go blue momentarily. With babies there is a risk they will stop breathing altogether after a bout of it, or even spontaneously. They must be with a responsible adult at all times and will almost certainly need observation and probably treatment in hospital. They easily get pneumonia and other lung problems that can lead to oxygen starvation and brain injury.
Whooping is possible but frequently absent. When the disease is becoming fully developed the baby will be lethargic and probably limp.
Treatment consists of hospitalization, general supportive measures, antibiotics, oxygenation of the blood (ECMO), and sometimes exchange transfusion.
A booster shot for the mother in pregnancy will prevent 90% of situations like the above.