Whooping cough, which is also called pertussis, can affect anyone in any age group. However, in babies and young children, whooping cough can be very serious and may require hospitalization. Nearly half of the children under 1 year of age who contract whooping cough require hospitalization, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease gets its name because of the whooping noise heard after a person coughs and tries to breath in air. Some children under 6 months of age may not cough, but instead have difficulty breathing that may be life- threatening in some cases, notes the Vermont Department of Health - Agency of Human Services. Babies or young children may get this very contagious disease from an adult or older children.
Even if a person is vaccinated, they can still get whooping cough, but the disease is less severe. This occurs because protection from this vaccination decreases over time. There are two types of vaccinations, which are DTaP and Tdap. DTaP is for small children under 6 years of age, while Tdap is for older children, teens and adults, according to the Vermont Department of Health.
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that spreads from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing. Although coughing is a main symptom of this disease, pertussis can lead to complications, such as pneumonia and seizures, especially in very young children. Treatment for pertussis involves taking antibiotics, reports the New York State Department of Health.