What causes whooping cough?
Whooping cough is caused by an infection with a bacterium known as Bordetella pertussis. The bacteria attach to the lining of the airways in the upper respiratory system and release toxins that lead to inflammation and swelling.
Most people acquire the bacteria by breathing in the bacteria that are present in droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The infection is very contagious is often is spread to infants by family members or caregivers, who may be in the early stages of infection and not realize that they are suffering from whooping cough.