Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Commonly known as whooping cough, pertussis is a bacterial infection spread through airborne droplets.  Pertussis is particulary dangerous for children under 6 months of age.  Parents and caretakers of young children should speak with their health care provider about getting a pertussis booster. The cough associated with pertussis can last for an average of 6-10 weeks(even with treatment).

If you have been diagnosed with pertussis it is important to stay away from indoor group activities(work, school, practice) until you have been on antibiotics for 5 days.  The Health Department will work with you to ensure that all close contacts are tested and treated appropriately.  We consider close contacts people who you have been within an arm’s length distance indoors for 60 minutes or more during the infectious period.

Having pertussis does not protect you from getting it in the future.  Check with your health care provider to see if you need a booster.

Early symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Mild, occasional cough
  • In children less than 6 months of age symptoms can include gagging, gasping and halts in breathing

Later symptoms include:

  • Prolonged coughing episodes which can lead to broken ribs, vomiting, incontinence and sleep disturbances.


Pertussis is a component of the tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis vaccine.  No vaccine is 100% effective but people who have been vaccinated against pertussis tend to have less severe symptoms and a shorter disease duration.  It is important for people who will be around infants to protect them by having a pertussis booster which is available through the Gallatin City-County Health Department.


Pertussis Facts:

Pertussis in Montana: