A whooping cough outbreak has been detected in the south end of Cache Valley. Whooping cough is an infection that affects the airways. The bacteria that cause whooping cough can easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it can be very dangerous for babies and people with certain health conditions that may be worse with whooping cough. Family members with whooping cough, especially siblings and parents, can spread pertussis to babies.


Early Symptoms

Early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include:

  • Runny or stuffed-up nose
  • Low-grade fever (less than 100.4)
  • Mild, occasional cough (babies do not do this)
  • Apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) and cyanosis (turning blue or purple) in babies and young children.

In its early stages, whooping cough appears to be nothing more than the common cold. Therefore, doctors often do not suspect or diagnose it until the more severe symptoms appear.

Later Symptoms

One to 2 weeks after the first symptoms start, people with whooping cough may develop paroxysms—rapid, violent, and uncontrolled coughing fits. These coughing fits usually last 1 to 6 weeks but can last for up to 10 weeks. Coughing fits generally get worse and become more common as the illness continues.

Coughing fits can cause people to

  • Make a high-pitched “whoop” sound when they are finally able to inhale at the end of a coughing fit
  • Vomit during or after coughing fits
  • Feel very tired after the fit, but usually seem well in-between fits
  • Struggle to breathe

Later Symptoms

Recovery from whooping cough can be slow. The cough becomes milder and less common as you get better.

Coughing fits may stop for a while but can return if you get other respiratory infections. Coughing fits can return many months after the whooping cough illness started.


Doctors generally treat whooping cough with antibiotics. There are several antibiotics available to treat whooping cough.

It’s very important to treat whooping cough early, before coughing fits begin.

Treating whooping cough early can

  • Make the illness less serious
  • Help prevent spreading the bacteria that cause it to others

Starting treatment after three weeks of illness is unlikely to help even though most people will still have symptoms. By then, your body has gotten rid of the bacteria, but the symptoms are still there due to the damage already done to your body.



Whooping cough, or pertussis, can be a serious disease for people of all ages but especially for babies. Whooping cough vaccines offer the best protection against this very contagious disease. 

Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date with your whooping cough vaccines.

Two vaccines in the United States help prevent whooping cough: DTaP and Tdap. These vaccines also provide protection against tetanus and diphtheria.

The vaccine recommended for someone depends on their age.

  • Babies and young children should get five shots of DTaP between the ages of 2 months and 6 years.
  • Older children and teens should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years.
  • Women should get Tdap during the early part of the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy.
  • All adults who have never received one should get a shot of Tdap.

Learn more about CDC’s whooping cough vaccine recommendations.

Good Hygiene

CDC recommends practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of the bacteria that cause whooping cough and other respiratory illnesses.

Cover your Cough or Sneeze:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw away used tissues in the waste basket right away.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow if you don’t have a tissue. Never cough into your hands because you can spread germs this way.

Wash Your Hands Often:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.