Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a very contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Someone with whooping cough will cough violently, often making a "whoop" sound on the in breath.

Whooping cough can be deadly to infants and small children. A vaccine can protect against whooping cough, and children in the U.S. are routinely vaccinated for pertussis. But the disease is making a comeback, especially in infants who have not completed the series of vaccinations, and in teens whose immunity has worn off.

Babies need a series of 3 vaccines before they are fully protected from whooping cough, however, studies show significant protection after just one dose of the vaccine. The vaccine keeps children from getting the disease when they are most at risk. Immunity weakens as we get older, so teens and adults who have been vaccinated can still get a milder form of the disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 11 to 18 get a booster shot that includes a whooping cough vaccine.

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Review Date: 4/27/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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