Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Travellers around the world should watch out for this menacing microbe. It causes a cough which lasts for several months, with intense bouts of coughing which leave you gasping for breath.

Learn more


Key Facts around Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Around 50% of the babies who catch whooping cough before one year old, need medical support in hospital.1

  • How do people catch this disease?

    By breathing in tiny droplets spread by the coughs and sneezes of people infected with the bacteria that cause whooping cough.2,3,4

  • Which countries are affected?

    Cases of whooping cough occur all over the world but mainly are in developing countries.3

  • What are the symptoms?

    Initially mild fever, sniffles and dry irritating cough. Bouts of uncontrollable coughing lasting several minutes occur as the disease develops. Coughing may be severe enough to cause vomiting. Sometimes people find it difficult to breathe between coughing bouts and their gasping for breath causes the characteristic “whooping” noise.3,4

  • How serious is the disease?

    Children under 6 months are particularly at risk of complications such as pneumonia and fits. If breathing is interrupted there’s a risk of brain damage. The disease can be fatal with babies, though deaths are rare (1%).3

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
      Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment: https://www.reisemedizincheck.at/en/find-a-travel-health-service
    • Pregnant women are advised to have the whooping cough vaccine. This protects babies during their first weeks of life.3,4
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis (Whooping Cough). About.Diagnosis-Treatment. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/diagnosis-treatment.html (last accessed October 2022)
  2. World Health Organization. Pertussis. December 2019. Available online: https://www.who.int/health-topics/pertussis#tab=tab_1 (last accessed October 2022)
  3. Gesundheit.gv.at. Keuchhusten bei Kindern. Available online: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/kinderkrankheiten/infektion/keuchhusten (last accessed October 2022)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4. Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Pertussis. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/pertussis (last accessed October 2022)

Find a clinic

Check for risks

Find your travel health service

2024 - update your browser