Whooping cough - Causes 

Causes of whooping cough 

Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. The bacterium infects the lining of the airways, mainly the windpipe (trachea) and the two airways that branch off from it to the lungs (the bronchi).

When the Bordetella pertussis bacterium comes into contact with the lining of these airways, it multiplies and causes a build-up of thick mucus. It is the mucus that causes the intense bouts of coughing as your body tries to expel it.

The bacterium also causes the airways to swell up, making them narrower than usual. As a result, breathing is made difficult, which causes the 'whoop' sound as you gasp for breath after a bout of coughing.

How whooping cough spreads

People with whooping cough are infectious from six days after exposure to the bacterium to three weeks after the 'whooping' cough begins.

The Bordetella pertussis bacterium is carried in droplets of moisture in the air. When someone with whooping cough sneezes or coughs, they propel hundreds of infected droplets into the air. If the droplets are breathed in by someone else, the bacterium will infect their airways.

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2012

Next review due: 26/06/2014

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

osmildmay said on 30 November 2012

where does the mucus come from ?

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