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Alternate name: Whooping cough

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Fact sheet - Health conditions directory

Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough can affect people of any age. For adolescents and adults, the infection may only cause a persistent cough. However, for babies and young children, whooping cough can be life threatening. Complications of whooping cough in babies include pneumonia, fits and brain damage from prolonged lack of oxygen. Most hospitalisations and deaths occur in babies less than six months of age.

In Australia, epidemics occur every 3 to 4 years. In 2011, 38 732 cases were reported nationally. The highest rates of disease were in infants <6 months of age and children 5 – 9 years.

Public health management guidelines


Pathology laboratories

Attending medical practitioners/medical superintendents (or delegates)

Notification resources

    Enhanced surveillance for public health units

    • Case report form (PDF, 250kB) - used by public health units to collect and manage more detailed information for enhanced case surveillance.

    Resources for health professionals


    • Immunisation information for health professionals – Queensland Health website with information about the Queensland immunisation schedule, registration and qualification, vaccine service providers, the School Immunisation Program, vaccinations for the healthcare workers and contact information.
    • Australian immunisation handbook - provides clinical guidelines for health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice.
    • Clinical updates - read changes to recommendations in the administration of pertussis containing vaccine.

    Epidemiological data and reports

    Last updated: 5 June 2023

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