How is pertussis (whooping cough) transmitted?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Transmission of pertussis can occur through direct face-to-face contact, through sharing of a confined space, or through contact with oral, nasal, or respiratory secretions from an infected source. In a study of pertussis in 4 US states, out of 264 infants with the disease, the infant’s mother was the source of pertussis in 32% of cases, and another family member was the source in 43% of cases. [6]

Although mothers have historically been the most common source of transmission of pertussis to their infant, data from a study found that the most common source of transmission to infants is through their siblings. [7, 8]

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