What is Pertussis?

  • Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
  • Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After cough fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.
  • Symptoms begin 7 to 10 days (range, 5 to 21 days) after exposure and cough typically lasts for 1 to 6 weeks or more. Someone is contagious to others from the onset of cold-like symptoms until 5 days after antibiotic treatment is started or 21 days if no (or partial) treatment is given.
  • The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend children receive all vaccines according to the recommended vaccine schedule.

Is this a reportable illness?

  • This is a reportable illness to CDPH. Please work with your school nurse to confirm this diagnosis, gather the needed information and report as soon as possible but within 24 hours.
    • This is authorized by the IL Administrative Code Section 690.
    • For single cases, call the CDPH Disease Reporting Line at (312) 743-9000 and follow the prompts to report a case or complete this VPD RedCap Form.
    • To report multiple cases, call the CDPH Disease Reporting Line at (312) 743-9000 and follow the prompts.

What do schools need to do next?

  • Report confirmed diagnosis to CDPH.
  • Sick person
    • The sick person must be excluded until 5 days of appropriate antibiotic treatment or 21 days after cough onset if no treatment is received.
  • Close Contacts
    • Notify parents and staff of close contacts to provide education around exposure, signs, and symptoms, and any necessary exclusion and prophylaxis. Call CDPH to discuss the extent of notification and a template letter. CDPH will help you identify close contacts and determine if they should receive antibiotics.
    • Close contacts that are unimmunized should have pertussis immunization initiated.
    • Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for all close contacts regardless of age and immunization status.
  • No special cleaning.