Another name for pertussis, which is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract and lungs caused by Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis produces a cough that is characteristic of the infection. Violent, repeated coughing is punctuated by a rapid gasp (whoop) of inspiration. People with this infection take a rapid breath in, which causes a whooping sound and then go into another bout of coughing. This pattern of coughing and whooping inspirations has led to the nickname whooping cough. Infants are particularly prone to severe infections. The infection can be severe enough in them to require a respirator and also affect the brain, leading to life-long impairment. The incidence of pertussis has increased in the US over the past several years, most likely due to the waning of immunity produced by the pertussis vaccine over time. To reverse this trend, a new vaccine, TdaP, was introduced in 2006 for older children and adolescents.
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