Be alert for whooping cough

Be alert for whooping cough

Tasmanians should be vigilant for the early symptoms of whooping cough, and are encouraged to ensure vaccination is up-to-date.


Public health advice

  • If you've been in contact with someone with proven or suspected whooping cough, you're at risk of developing the infection. Please see a doctor if you develop cold-like symptoms or a cough. Antibiotic treatment may reduce the risk of you passing on the infection to others, if it is given in the first 21 days of the illness.
  • Make sure your immunity is up-to-date. Ask your GP about whether it is time for you to have a booster.

If you do get whooping cough:

  • If you are being treated, stay away from school or work until five days after starting antibiotics.
  • If you are not being treated, stay away from school or work for three weeks from the start of symptoms.
  • Stay away from young children, pregnant women and people who have not been vaccinated against whooping cough.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands afterwards.


What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly infectious bacterial infection of the nose, throat and lungs, caused by Bordetella pertussis.

Whooping cough is a serious disease for infants, and an important cause of cough illness among older children and adults.

Vaccination reduces the risk of serious whooping cough illness.


What are the symptoms?

It usually begins just like a cold, with a runny nose and sometimes a mild fever. Symptoms can rapidly progress to include severe coughing bouts, sometimes with the characteristic 'whooping' sound.


Who should get vaccinated?

  • Babies and young children - the vaccine is given to young children when they are two, four and six months, and then at four years of age.
  • Teenagers - as immunity decreases over time, a booster dose is given to adolescents when they are in year 10 at secondary school.
  • Adults - the following people should consider a booster dose:
    • people (both mothers and fathers) planning pregnancy
    • parents and grandparents of new born babies (including adoptive and foster parents) if not recently vaccinated
    • anyone whose work has them regularly in contact with very young babies (eg childcare and healthcare workers).

Fact sheet


Last updated: 24 February 2012