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Acute, very contagious childhood disease, typically with bouts of coughing followed by a long, loud inhalation (whoop) and ending with mucus expulsion and often vomiting. Caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, it initially resembles a cold with a short dry cough. Within one or two weeks, coughing bouts begin; this phase usually lasts four to six weeks. Serious complications include bronchopneumonia (pneumonia involving the bronchi), asphyxia, seizures, and signs of brain damage. Treatment is with antibiotics. The pertussis vaccine is usually combined with tetanus and diphtheria toxoids as part of routine childhood immunizations.
Variants of WHOOPING COUGH
whooping cough or pertussis
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on whooping cough, visit Britannica.com.