Pertussis—known as whooping cough—is a serious, very contagious disease that causes severe, uncontrollable coughing fits. The coughing makes it difficult to breathe and often ends with a "whoop" noise. It is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The good news is that pertussis can be prevented with a vaccine, which most children receive before entering school. 

Pertussis is most dangerous for infants and young children who are not yet completely immunized. Adults and adolescents also can get pertussis, but they usually have fewer complications than infants do.  Pertussis often starts out like a common cold but turns more serious, with severe coughing fits and complications that can be life-threatening, especially for infants and young children.

Learn more about the pertussis vaccine and ways you can help prevent the spread of pertussis.