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Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Fact Sheet What is pertussis? Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory tract infection caused by the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis. Before the advent of the pertussis vaccine, pertussis was a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. Approximately 75 to 200 persons with pertussis are reported each year in Nebraska. It is undoubtedly . . . read more