Pertussis (whooping cough)

Find out how we define and monitor cases of whooping cough, how you can get vaccinated, and where you can learn more about this disease.

About whooping cough

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe it in. The bacteria affect the lungs and airways, causing a person to cough violently and uncontrollably. This can make it hard for the infected person to breathe. 

Whooping cough is a serious disease because it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and sometimes death. 

Disease type:
Vaccination available under NIP:
Notifiable disease:


Whooping cough can be prevented with vaccination. If you're eligible, you can get pertussis vaccines for free under the National Immunisation Program. See more information about when to get vaccinated.  


Find out more about getting vaccinated against whooping cough.

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

For information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, see healthdirect's whooping cough page

Surveillance and reporting 

Whooping cough is a nationally notifiable disease

We monitor cases through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS).

For more on whooping cough in Australia, you can search Communicable Diseases Intelligence.  

Date last updated:

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