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What is 100-day cough? Know symptoms, causes and treatment for pertussis

The '100-day cough' (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection with severe coughing fits. Vaccination is key for prevention, but early diagnosis and treatment are vital, especially for infants.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: January 30, 2024 12:33 IST
100-day cough
Image Source : FREEPIK What is 100-day cough? Know symptoms, causes and more

If you've heard whispers of a persistent, hacking cough wreaking havoc lately, you're not alone. The "100-day cough," also known as pertussis, has been making headlines due to rising cases in some regions. But what exactly is this lingering illness, and how can we protect ourselves? Let's shed light on pertussis, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is 100-day cough?

100-day cough, pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It thrives on close contact, spreading through coughing, sneezing, or even talking. While anyone can contract pertussis, it can be particularly dangerous for infants and young children, whose immune systems haven't fully developed.

Symptoms of pertussis:

Early symptoms (1-2 weeks): Runny or stuffy nose, low-grade fever, mild cough (babies may not cough at all but may experience apnea or cyanosis). These symptoms can easily be mistaken for a common cold, making early diagnosis challenging.

Later symptoms (2-10 weeks): Paroxysms of rapid, violent coughing fits, often worse at night. These fits may end with a high-pitched ‘whoop’ sound as the person inhales. Vomiting, fatigue, and difficulty breathing can also occur.

Causes of pertussis:

The culprit behind pertussis is the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. It spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. Close contact with an infected individual significantly increases the risk of contracting pertussis.


Early detection and treatment of pertussis are crucial to minimize the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of the infection. Antibiotics, such as azithromycin or erythromycin, are commonly prescribed to individuals diagnosed with pertussis. These medications can help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms and decrease the likelihood of spreading the infection to others.


Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pertussis. The DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) vaccine is routinely administered to infants and young children, providing protection against pertussis and its complications. Additionally, a booster vaccine called Tdap is recommended for adolescents and adults to maintain immunity.

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