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Could this be whooping cough?
  1. Patrick Nee1,2,
  2. Elaine Weir3,
  3. Madhur Vardhan1,
  4. Ankita Vaidya1
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Whiston Hospital, Prescot, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Education, Health and Community, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3 Department of Paediatrics, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Patrick Nee, Emergency Department, Whiston Hospital, Prescot L35 5DR, UK; patrick.nee{at}


Whooping cough is a notifiable bacterial respiratory infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. It may produce serious disease, especially in immunocompromised individuals and very young children. The number of reported cases increases in the winter months and the incidence peaks every 4–5 years. However, this periodicity is variable and is inconsistent between different geographical regions. Bordetella pertussis infection (BPI) may be underdiagnosed because of its seasonality and the fact that clinical features may be indistinguishable from other respiratory disorders in the paediatric ED setting. Treatment with antibiotics reduces the period of infectivity but may not shorten the illness. This review discusses the epidemiology of the disease, its clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and the disposition of patients with BPI.

  • paediatric emergency med
  • infectious diseases
  • respiratory, pneumonia/infections

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  • Contributors EW wrote the case report. MV advised on microbiology aspects. AV assisted with the write-up. PAN wrote the manuscript and takes overall responsibility for the submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.