DL-997: What’s Going on with Whooping Cough (Pertussis)? James I. Mangels, MA, CLS, MT (ASCP), F(AAM) - Microbiology Consulting Services - Santa Rosa, CA Approved for 3.0 CE Level of Difficulty: Intermediate CAMLT is approved by the California Department of Public Health as a CA CLS Accrediting Agency (#21) Whooping cough, or pertussis, is caused by the organism Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is an acute bacterial infectious disease, and one of the most important diseases of children throughout the world. Pertussis is a highly communicable infection of the respiratory tract spread by coughing or sneezing. The term “whooping cough” refers to the intensive cough followed by an inspiratory “whoop” sound. Bouts of coughing due to B. pertussis can last so long that patients are deprived of oxygen. At the end of a coughing bout, they forcefully draw air back into the lungs producing the characteristic “whoop.” While the whooping stage is not universal, it is the hallmark of the clinical disease and has given the disease its name. People sick with pertussis have severe coughing attacks that can occur for months. The terms “whooping cough” and “pertussis” will be used interchangeably throughout this course.
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