Whooping cough, or pertussis, can be a very serious disease when children under a year old are infected. An effective vaccine, however, makes it quite rare. Whooping cough is caused by a bacteria called bordetella pertussis and is a very contagious infection – if one child in the family gets it, chances are the other children will get infected if they have not been vaccinated or if they did not have the disease previously. The first symptom of the disease is a cold and mild cough, which gets worse until no air is left in the lungs. The child will eventually cough up phlegm and may be followed by vomiting.
Most cases of whooping cough are not serious enough to require a specific treatment, though infants and children with asthma will need monitoring that is usually done in a hospital. Antibiotics are sometimes used during the early days of the disease. It is highly recommended that you get your child vaccinated against whooping cough as this is a very distressful condition for the child and parent alike.