Caused by Bordetella pertussis, whooping cough or pertussis is a highly contagious condition in which a person gets bouts of coughing that usually last for about 2 to 3 minutes at a stretch. The coughing is so intense that the person’s face may turn red after the person stops coughing. Sometimes, the person may also vomit as the coughing bout chokes the throat, leading one to feel like vomiting. If the sufferer is a very young child, sufferer face may turn blue and breathing may also stop after the coughing bout.
Is Whooping Cough Contagious?
Whooping cough is very contagious. When a person with this disease coughs or sneezes, the Bordetella pertussis bacteria spread through the droplets of sneeze or cough and transfer to other people nearby. It can also be spread through breathing as these bacteria are airborne and can transfer through sharing breathing space with another person. However, whooping cough does not spread through other animals. This disease is found only in the humans.
Whooping cough mostly affects babies and young children. Usually the infection is spread from the family – parents, siblings or even caregiver. Sometimes, it gets spread through people, who do not even know that they have the disease themselves. Teens may get it from friends in school or their play mates as well. However, for adults, it is a less severe disease, though very distressing. The whooping cough stays for much longer and is more irritating in adults.
How Long Does Whooping Cough Last?
Whooping cough is a very irritating and disturbing condition that may last for up to 3 months. However, there are various stages of the disease. Depending on your symptoms, the stage of whooping cough can be determined; and thereby, it can be understood as to how long the condition may last.
Catarrhal Stage: After the incubation period of the Bordetella pertussis, the symptoms of whooping cough at this stage may last for about a week or two. The symptoms of whooping cough at this stage usually resemble those of common cold such as mild fever, runny nose and mild cough. It is at this stage that whooping cough is most contagious. It will stay contagious for about 21 days from the onset of the symptoms.
Paroxysmal Stage: This stage of whooping cough lasts for about 1 to 6 weeks. However, some people may experience the symptoms of this stage for up to 10 weeks. The numerous rapid coughs with a long inhaling ‘whooping’ sound in the end occur at this stage. That is how; the disease pertussis gets its common name whooping cough.
Convalescent Stage: This is the last stage of whooping cough and this may last for 2 to 6 weeks or sometimes longer, even for months. The cough usually disappears after 2 to 3 weeks. However, whenever there is a respiratory infection, the paroxysms recur.
How long the symptoms and the whooping cough will last differs from person to person. In most cases, after 5 full days of antibiotic treatment, whooping cough or pertussis is no longer contagious and the symptoms start to reduce in intensity and gradually disappear; but, for some, the condition may last for months.