*Influenza is also highly infectious and can cause serious illness in people of all ages


Whooping cough (Pertussis)


Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It is spread by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with fluids from the nose.

It is still common in Australia with outbreaks occurring every 3 to 4 years1.




Hear first hand from those who have experienced whooping cough:


Leigh's Story


It felt like I had been
in ten rounds with
Muhammad Ali


Leigh thought she had a cold, but later found out it was whooping cough.

Mary Story


Whooping cough 
concerns the entire


Mary-Louise is a Professor of Infectious Disease Control who knew the signs and symptoms of whooping cough.

Lynn Story


The debilitating
effects of contracting
whooping cough


Lynn shares her story about how whooping cough impacted her and her family.



What are the symptoms of Whooping cough?

A simple line illustration hilighting the throat as the area affected by whooping cough.

It usually begins with an irritating cough


A simple line illustration hilighting the symptom of coughing.

And may gradually develop into repeated bouts of uncontrollable violent coughing that may lead to vomiting

A graphic that indicates the three month period of time it may take to overcome whooping cough

Coughing can continue for up to 3 months and sleep is often affected

Like Flu, Whooping cough can quickly spread

Whooping cough is highly infectious and can be spread to others for up to 3 weeks after symptoms first show.

Whooping cough can cause severe illness in babies, young children and older adults. Speak to your doctor about how to help protect yourself and those around you.



Older adults may be at risk for whooping cough related complications

Adults aged 65 and above have higher rates of hospitalisation and are more likely to develop serious complications of whooping cough than younger adults. These complications may include:

  • pneumonia
  • fainting
  • urinary incontinence
  • rib fractures (rare)

An Australian study showed up to 1 in 10 diagnosed cases of whooping cough in older adults ended up in hospital2.

Ways you can help to prevent whooping cough


Practicing good hygiene as well as vaccination can help prevent the spread of whooping cough

Good hygiene involves:

  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your upper sleeve or elbow
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • if no water is available use an alcohol-based hand-rub



For further information about whooping cough please speak to a Healthcare Professional




1. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, 2018, immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au

2. Karki S et al. Vaccine 2015;33(42):5647-53