Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory disease that is vaccine preventable. It is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. Pertussis can cause serious and life-threatening complications. This includes pneumonia, difficulty in breathing (apnoea) and seizures. Severe complications and deaths occur mostly in infants under 6 months of age.
Pertussis is a notifiable disease in England and Wales. This means health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases. PHE collects data on notifiable diseases. This data helps healthcare professionals track outbreaks and trends in disease occurrence over time.
Immunisation is the most effective way to protect against pertussis.