Pertussis is more commonly known as “whooping cough.” Caused by a bacterial infection, pertussis mostly affects the respiratory system in children. The first phase (called the catarrhal stage) manifests itself after a two week latent period. During the catarrhal stage, common cold symptoms such as stuffy nose and watery eyes are present. The next stage (paroxysmal stage) begins after about one week. During this stage, the characteristic “whoop” sound made during a deep forceful inspiration is present.The last stage is the convalescent stage during which a persistent moderate cough gradually declines.
A complication of whooping cough is pneumonia which may develop from the pertussis bacteria itself or by another secondary infection.