What is pertussis (whooping cough)?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a respiratory tract infection characterized by a paroxysmal cough. It was first identified in the 16th century. In 1906, Bordet isolated the most common causative organism, Bordetella pertussis.Bordetella parapertussis has also been associated with whooping cough in humans (see the image below). (See Etiology and Pathophysiology.)

A photomicrograph of the bacterium Bordetella pert A photomicrograph of the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, using Gram stain technique.

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