Pertussis, Child

Pertussis (whooping cough) is an infection of the air passages. The air passages include the nose, throat, voice box, windpipe, and lungs. This infection is caused by a certain type of germ (bacteria). Pertussis causes severe coughing attacks. Pertussis is easily spread from person to person (contagious).


  • If antibiotic medicines are given, make sure your child takes them as told. Make sure your child finishes them even if he or she starts to feel better.

  • Do not give cough medicine unless told to do so by the doctor.

  • Have your child stay away from:

  • People who have not had shots (immunizations) for whooping cough.

  • People who have not had their recent booster shot.

  • Pregnant women.

  • Have your child wash his or her hands often.

  • Keep your child away from smoke, fumes, or other things that may make coughing worse.

  • Do not bring your child to school or daycare until he or she has taken medicine for 5 days.

  • Use a cool mist humidifier at home.

  • Sit your child up during coughing attacks. You can raise the head of your infant's mattress up to help during coughing attacks.

  • Have your child rest as much as possible.

  • Have your child drink enough fluids to keep his or her pee (urine) clear or pale yellow.

  • Have your child eat small meals often to lessen the chance of throwing up (vomiting).  

  • Watch your child carefully. Pertussis can get worse after your visit to the doctor.


  • Your child's lips or skin turn blue while coughing.

  • Your child has trouble breathing, slow breathing , or stops breathing.

  • Your child is restless or cannot sleep.

  • Your child does not have energy (listless) or sleeps more than normal.

  • Your child is not acting normal.

  • Your child who is younger than 3 months has a fever.

  • Your child who is older than 3 months has a fever and persistent problems.

  • Your child who is older than 3 months has a fever and problems suddenly get worse.

  • Your child throws up often.

  • Your child is not able to eat or drink fluids.

  • Your child is peeing less often.

  • Your child has dry lips or sunken eyes.

  • Your child's coughing attacks get worse.

  • Your child is not getting better.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your child's condition.

  • Will get help right away if your child is not doing well or gets worse.