More commonly known as whooping cough, pertussis is an infection of the respiratory tract with a bacteria (Bordetella pertussis). It causes a prolonged illness (often over 3 months) with sudden violent coughing followed by a high pitched whoop when at last able to breathe in. This is the reason for its common name: whooping cough. Permanent lung damage (bronchiectasis) can occur. Brain damage, often due to shortage of oxygen from not being able to breathe, can cause mental handicaps. Deaths occur particularly in infants. Vaccination which is effective, started in the 1950s, but it requires a persistent high level of uptake to prevent outbreaks. In 2002 just over 50 territories reported no deaths from pertussis.
In 2002 Whooping cough caused 2.5% of all deaths of children under 15 years old .
Whooping cough caused 0.5% of all deaths worldwide in 2002 or 47 deaths per million people.