- 4 updates
While whooping cough can cause nasty symptoms in adults, it does not usually cause any long-lasting complications and can be treated with antibiotics.
In the very young, whooping cough can be a serious illness and can lead to death in some cases.
Babies and children can often make a distressing "whoop" sound while gasping for air after a coughing fit. Older children and adults tend to suffer a prolonged cough.
Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said:
Health officials recently announced that all pregnant women will be vaccinated against whooping cough in an attempt to combat the infection and protect newborns.
Responding to last month's figures on the outbreak, Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at the HPA, said:
Three babies died of whooping cough in October amid the biggest outbreak in 20 years, the Health Protection Agency has announced.
The deaths took the total number of babies under the age of three months to have been killed this year by the infectious disease to 13.
The number of confirmed cases in England and Wales this year is now 7,728.
The HPA said 1,614 cases of whooping cough were reported in England and Wales in October. In 2011, the total number of cases was 819.