Whooping cough pertussis

The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine should be given to your child at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 18 months. A booster should be given between the ages of 4 and 6.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is caused by a bacteria. The germs get into your child's nose, throat and lungs. It starts with cold-like symptoms.

The cough becomes worse in about 10 days. The severe cough may be followed by a "whooping" sound. Your child's face may even turn a bluish or reddish color. It is common to vomit after a coughing spell.

Symptoms of whooping cough are:

  • runny nose
  • fever
  • severe coughing that often leads to vomiting (In a younger child it may lead to periods of not breathing or turning blue.)
  • a "whooping" sound when taking a breath after coughing

How to make your child feel more comfortable

Give your child:

Antibiotics do not improve the cough but will keep your child from being able to spread whooping cough. Make sure your child finishes the prescription, even if she feels better. Family members will also need to take antibiotics.

Related resources

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016

Tip
Your child is at risk for infection to the bacteria if she is younger than 6 months old or has not had the recommended vaccine by 6 months old.