Pertussis (whooping cough)



What is Pertussis?

Pertussis (or Whooping cough) is an infectious bacterial disease caused by an infection of the pulmonary (lung) mucous membranes, usually by a bacteria called bortadella pertussis.


Bronchiol English


The disease can appear in all ages but is mostly common in children under the age of 12 months.

The doctors who specialize in this disease are pulmonologists. Click here to go to the Pediatric Pulmonology unit's webpage. For information about making an appointment, click here.


What are the signs of pertussis?

In the first week or two of the disease, non specific symptoms appear such as a cold, runny nose, slight fever and a light cough. After a while, the cough gets worse and turns into coughing episodes. The episodes can be very rough and may be accompanied by redness or blueishness of the face. Sometimes, it is possible that after a coughing episodes the child will make a sound when effortfully inhaling hair. This sound is called a "whoop".


Additional symptoms may include: vomiting, increased secretion of saliva, tearing.

After about a month from the beginning of the disease there is a gradual decrease in the severity and number of coughing episodes. Sometimes, pertussis can last several months.


Diagnosis of pertussis

In most cases, diagnosis is done by combining the clinical observations (detailed symptoms) provided by the patient's family together with a culture taken directly via a thin catheter inserted through the nose. Sometimes blood tests are used (Read more about blood tests here) or other tests which examine the genetic material characterizing the bacteria (PCR). The cell culture gives the most accurate diagnostic results.



  • Monitoring the child's status
  • Giving oxygen when necessary
  • Giving fluids if the child has difficulty in eating. Read more about IVs here
  • Antibiotic treatment

The most common antibiotics given to treat pertussis are erythromycin, given for two weeks, or azitromycin - Azenil, given for 5 days to shorten the duration of the disease.


Full treatment must be given to all of the patients family members, even those who do not show symptoms of the disease. The reason for this is because pertussis has a very high infection rate. Even after full antibiotic treatment, the patient might continue coughing for several weeks because of damage caused to the respiratory system, even though the bacteria in his body has been destroyed.


Solitary hospitalization

The disease is carried through the air. Meaning, by coughing and sneezing rather than direct contact. Drops from the airways are found in any surface in the patient's surroundings and might be a source for infection. The disease is infectious at least until the end of the 5th day of antibiotical treatment.


To narrow transferring the disease between the other hospitalized children, it is important that every hospitalized child with pertussis will avoid direct contact with other children. Therefor, the child will be put into an isolation room.


The best way to avoid infection is washing hands before and after every treatment of the child.


Important to remember!!

Even after treatment with antibiotics the patient might continue coughing for several weeks. As stated above, the cough occurs due to damage caused to the respiratory system and airways, even though the bacteria in the patient's body have been destroyed. This case is not infectious!


Feel Well!


Contact us

Appointment Scheduling Center: +972-2-5842111 - Operating Sundays-Thursdays between 08:00-20:00 (Local Jerusalem Time, GMT+2)

Pediatric Department Ein Kerem: +972-2-6776465 (24hrs a day)

Pediatric Department Mt. Scopus: +972-2-5844430

Emergency Room Ein Kerem: +972-2-6777222

Emergency Room Mt. Scopus: +972-2-5844430