Font Size

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) (cont.)

Whooping Cough Treatment

Patient Comments

Antibiotics are used to lessen the severity of whooping cough and make the person taking them noncontagious. Antibiotics are most effective if given early in the first phase of the illness.

The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy recommends the following antibiotic treatments: a five-day course of azithromycin, a seven-day course of clarithromycin, or a 14-day course of either erythromycin or trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX).

  • Some strains of whooping cough are resistant to certain antibiotics. Symptoms may worsen if this is the case.
  • In addition to treating the adult or child who has whooping cough, everyone in the household should be treated prophylactically with antibiotics.
  • All close contacts younger than 7 years of age who have not completed their primary vaccinations (including the DTaP to prevent pertussis) should complete this series with the minimum time between shots.
  • Close contacts younger than 7 years of age who have completed their primary series but have not received a booster of DTaP within three years of exposure should be given the booster dose.
  • Exposed adults should be vaccinated with Tdap (see the "Prevention" section below).
  • Anyone with whooping cough should be isolated for five days after starting antibiotics or until three weeks after the onset of the coughing spasms if the person has not received antibiotic treatment.

Whooping Cough Follow-up

Schools and day-care facilities should be notified of whooping cough illnesses. Children who later develop a cough should be evaluated by their doctors. Children younger than 7 years of age who attend the school or day care and are behind in their vaccinations should receive them.

  • School-wide treatment with antibiotics is not currently recommended.
  • Children with mild cases of whooping cough may return to school or day care after receiving antibiotics for at least five days.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2016

Must Read Articles Related to Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Antibiotics (Side Effects, List, Types)
Antibiotics Antibiotics are prescribed to individuals to cure disease by killing bacteria. There are over 100 antibiotics. The main classes of antibiotics include
learn more >>
Choking Choking is a blockage of the upper learn more >>
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Complete Blood Count (CBC) Complete blood count (CBC) is one of the most common blood tests. The complete blood count test provides valuable information about the quantity of the differen...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Whooping Cough (Pertussis):

Whooping Cough - Describe Your Experience

Tell us about your experience with whooping cough.

Whooping Cough - Symptoms

What were your whooping cough symptoms? If your child was the one who was ill, please describe your child's whooping cough symptoms.

Whooping Cough - Treatment

Tell us about the treatment for your whooping cough. If your child was the one who was ill, please describe your child's whooping cough treatment.

Medical Dictionary