Whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can pose a serious threat to a baby’s life if not vaccinated. The best way to prevent it is to get vaccinated. The Public Health Department of Castilla-La Mancha confirmed an outbreak of whooping cough in Guadalajara, affecting 124 people, mainly in schools, mostly children. Six adults and two cases were identified in schools in the Madrid community.

Health authorities say respiratory infections caused by contagious whooping cough can also be serious for immunocompromised people and pregnant women.

Whooping cough is caused by Bordetella pertussis. In teenagers and adults, the condition is usually milder, but children under four months of age are the most vulnerable.

Symptoms of contagious whooping cough

Its symptoms develop in two stages. The first one usually lasts one to two weeks and can easily be confused with a cold or other respiratory infection because it causes nasal congestion, low-grade fever, and occasionally a mild cough.

But starting in the second week, more severe symptoms began, such as rapid, severe, uncontrollable coughing attacks.

Generally speaking, its most typical symptoms are nasal congestion, watery eyes, dry or spasmodic cough, fever and vomiting.


Health authorities insist on the importance of vaccination as the main strategy to prevent the disease.

The vast majority of unvaccinated people who come into contact with someone who has whooping cough are at risk of developing the disease.

Vaccination is the most effective measure to control the spread of whooping cough.

Complications of whooping cough

Possible complications of whooping cough include pneumonia, otitis media, respiratory failure, encephalopathy, and seizures. The most serious complications that can lead to death are apnea (stopping breathing) and progressive respiratory failure.

The Spanish Pediatric Association provides questions and answers about whooping cough on its website.

How did you get this disease?

Whooping cough is highly contagious. The virus spreads easily through the air when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. 83% of infections came from adults living in the same house as babies.

Who can suffer from it?

Whooping cough can occur at any age. Young children who have not completed their vaccination schedule or who have not received a full dose of vaccine are at greater risk of developing the most severe form of the disease.

Can it happen more than once?

Curing whooping cough does not guarantee permanent immunity, so even people who have it should get vaccinated.

How is it different from a cold?

The initial symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of the common cold. After a week or two, characteristic attacks may appear.

Unlike the common cold, cough attacks can last for weeks at a time.

Diagnosis and treatment of infectious pertussis

Early diagnosis of whooping cough is crucial to initiating treatment, which is recommended during the catarrhal stage of the disease as this is more likely to reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms.

Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your pediatrician, which may be more effective if symptoms are mild.

During the duration of treatment it is recommended:

  • Promote rest for your child.
  • Keep your home free of irritants to prevent coughing from occurring more easily.
  • Offer your child small, frequent meals to avoid vomiting, and encourage him to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Pregnant women must be made aware of the importance of vaccination (EFE/JJ Guillén

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