Who is affected by whooping cough

Whooping cough is most serious in babies younger than 4 months of age. Usually, the younger the infant, the more serious the illness.

In the United States in 2007:1

  • Whooping cough occurred in about 4 people out of 100,000.
  • People ages 10 to 20 had it more than any other age group.
  • About 70 out of 100,000 infants younger than 6 months of age had it.

It is likely that a much higher number of people become infected with whooping cough than is reported. This may be in part because teens and adults usually have a milder form of the disease and don't see a doctor for treatment. Also, doctors may not always recognize mild symptoms as being related to whooping cough, and lab tests do not always detect the disease.

Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Pertussis section of Summary of notifiable diseases—United States, 2007. MMWR, 56(53): 14–15. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm5653.pdf. [Erratum in MMWR, 58(34): 954. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm5834.pdf.]

Last Updated: January 3, 2010

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology

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