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DHSS Press Release

Josette Manning, Secretary
DPH Media Contact:
Laura Matusheski
Media Relations Coordinator

Date: June 14, 2024


DOVER, DEL. (June 14, 2024) - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is currently investigating a rise in pertussis (whooping cough) cases in New Castle County. Pertussis is a serious respiratory illness that can lead to severe health complications including pneumonia, syncope (passing out), seizures, apnea (stopping breathing) and death, particularly in very young children. It begins with cold-like symptoms and develops into a bad cough. Coughing spells can be severe, and sometimes the individual might suffer from gagging or vomiting as a result. Some people also may have a high-pitched "whoop" after they cough, which is how the disease got its common name.

The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends different vaccines against pertussis for different age groups.

Children should receive 5 doses of the DTap vaccine administered at set intervals from age 2 months to 6 years to protect against pertussis. Adolescents and adults receive a dose of the adolescent/adult vaccine (Tdap). To protect their babies from pertussis, pregnant women should receive Tdap with each pregnancy. Both DTap and Tdap provide protection against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. For more information about pertussis vaccination visit the CDC's website.

If a Delaware resident is unsure of their vaccination status, they can visit the DelVAX public portal and view their personal profile. Individuals may also contact their primary health care provider for additional details or if they are unable to obtain their records on DelVAX.

However, it is important to know that vaccinated individuals could get and transmit pertussis as the protection from the vaccine wanes over time. Symptoms in those who were previously vaccinated will appear to be milder than in someone who is unvaccinated. Individuals currently experiencing a prolonged cough or who have been in contact with someone with pertussis should contact their doctor for testing and/or treatment. The treatment for pertussis is with antibiotics. Antibiotics are also recommended for those exposed to a person with pertussis including all household contacts, close contacts, and contacts who have a high risk of developing severe pertussis. This is to prevent them from getting sick with pertussis.

For more information about pertussis, visit


The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), a division of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is a nationally accredited public health agency recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board for its outstanding dedication to driving change through innovation.

Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e. TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, please visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.