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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Type and frequency of complications depends on the age and the immunity of the patient (1).

  • Infants and children:
    • pertussis may be responsible for serious and potentially life-threatening complications in infants and young children who are not fully vaccinated
    • severe complications and deaths occur mostly in infants under six months of age (2)
    • some of the complications include:
      • apnea
      • bronchopneumonia
        • the most common complication and cause of death
        • usually secondary to bacterial infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, or Haemophilus influenzae
      • seizures
      • encephalopathy - due to hypoxia from coughing or possibly from toxin
      • refractory pulmonary hypertension
      • epistaxis
      • otitis media
      • dehydration
      • severe complications like pneumothorax, rectal prolapse, and subdural hematomas (1)
  • Adolescents and adults:
    • less severe (especially those who have been vaccinated)
    • common complications observed in studies of adults with pertussis include:
      • pneumonia
      • weight loss
      • urinary incontinence
      • syncope
      • rib fractures from severe coughing (1)

Longer term complications include:

  • bronchiectasis


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