Table 1: Stages and Clinical Features of Pertussis

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Table 1: Stages and Clinical Features of Pertussis

Stage
Length
Clinical Features
Catarrhal
Usually 7-10 days; range of 4-21 days
  • Inflammation of mucous membranes in the nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild, occasional cough (which becomes progressively worse)
Paroxysmal Usually 1-6 weeks; may persist up to 10 weeks
  • Paroxysms of numerous, rapid coughs due to difficulty expelling thick mucus from the tracheobronchial tree
    • Paroxysmal attacks frequently occur at night
    • Average of 15 attacks/24-hour period
    • Increase in frequency of attacks during the first 1-2 weeks, remain at the same frequency 2-3 weeks, and then gradually decrease
  • Long inspiratory effort accompanied by a high-pitch "whoop" at the end of the paroxysms
  • Cyanosis
  • Vomiting and exhaustion
Convalescent Usually 7-10 days; range of 4-21 days
  • Gradual recovery
  • Less persistent paroxysmal coughs that disappear in 2-3 weeks
  • Paroxysms often recur with subsequent respiratory infections for many months after the onset of pertussis
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adapted from the table, Clinical features of pertussis. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/clinical/features.html. Accessed August 9, 2022.