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Whopping cough is a highly communicable respiratory infection and therefore is an disease of public health interest. Whooping cough can last for many weeks and is typically manifested in children with paroxysmal spasms of severe coughing, whooping and posttussive (after coughing spell) vomiting. In the United States, 5,000 to 7,000 cases are reported each year. The illness is caused by Bordetella pertussis, a small, anerobic gram-negative rod that is fastidious and requires special media for isolation. Pertussis testing requires collection of a nasopharyngeal aspirate or swab. Special media must be inoculated immediately following specimen collection. The Bureau of Laboratories offers Bordetella pertussis culture and PCR testing.

Pertussis Testing Specimen Collection and Shipping Instructions

Specimen Submission Form

Bureau of Laboratories Specimen Submission Form

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on the Use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for Diagnosing Pertussis

PCR Best Practices for Health Care Professionals

New NP Swab and Aspirate Collection Videos

More Information on Diagnostic Testing

Distinguishing Clinical Features of Pertussis