I have spoken with several parents who believed that pertussis, or whooping cough, is a disease of the past. Nevertheless, it is a common cause of chronic cough illness in adults and older children. It is still very much alive and well.
A study published in the June 15, 2001 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that pertussis was the cause of chronic cough in 19.9% of the patients studied.
For healthy teens and adults, this is usually nothing more than a long nuisance (lasting months, sometimes with vomiting). For babies and those at high risk, it can be severe or even life threatening.