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Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly infectious bacterial disease caused by Bordetella pertussis. It is spread by droplet infection, and has an incubation period of seven to ten days. The most recognisable symptom is an irritating cough that develops into coughing fits. In young infants, the characteristic 'whoop' may never develop and coughing spasms may be followed by periods of apnoea (breathing difficulty). Immunisation for pertussis was introduced in the 1950s.

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