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How do you get whooping cough?

Page last updated 11 December 2018

As whooping cough is a highly contagious disease, it can be caught whenever an infected person comes in contact with a susceptible person.

Simply put, whooping cough is spread from person to person through a fine mist of tiny droplets in the air. These tiny droplets are transmitted between people through close contact with an infected person. In an infected person, the tiny droplets contain the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. This bacterium gives its name – pertussis – to the disease we commonly call whooping cough.

If you breathe in the tiny droplets of bacteria, you become exposed to the highly contagious disease. You can also get whooping cough from sharing food or drinks or from close contact like kissing.

Sources & Citations

  1. NHMRC. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. 2013; 10th edition: Pertussis: 302 – 316. Available at: