Whooping cough is the common name for pertussis (per-TUSS-is). This is a highly contagious respiratory disease that usually affects infants and young children. It's mainly contracted by those who haven't been vaccinated against it. They get it by inhaling airborne droplets from an infected person. The symptoms of whooping cough generally begin as a runny nose, dry cough, loss of appetite, and a slight fever. The cough develops into severe bouts that cause patients to 'whoop' when they breathe in. To protect your children from whooping cough, make sure they receive the appropriate vaccinations. The D-TaP (D-tap) vaccine, which protects against pertussis, is given in five doses, beginning at age two months, with the last does between four and six years old. Your healthcare provider can give you information about both the side effects and the advantages of this type of immunization.