Number of whooping cough cases in Helsinki at a moderate level – testing available only by referral, when necessary

The number of whooping cough cases reported in Helsinki this year so far is approximately 50. The number of reported infections is now almost at the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic. Whooping cough outbreaks have been detected in two primary school classes this year. In addition to this, individual cases of whooping cough have been diagnosed in people of various ages, primarily in children over the age of 10 and adults.
Vaaleanpunainen ja sininen kuvituskuva viruksista.

School classes or activity groups where exposure is detected are provided with separate instructions.

Symptoms and transmission of whooping cough

Whooping cough is transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets. Whooping cough is highly contagious in the early stages of the disease, but becomes gradually less contagious over time. An infected person is no longer contagious after three weeks from the onset of symptoms.

A typical symptom of whooping cough is a cough lasting several weeks or even up to 2–3 months, which usually gradually becomes spasmodic. Especially in small children, the cough may cause breathing difficulties and result in a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop” at the end of a cough bout. Children may also throw up at the end of a cough bout. Between cough bouts, the patient usually appears to be in good condition and shows few symptoms.

Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for children under the age of six months who have not been vaccinated or have inadequate vaccination protection. Children under the age of three months who have not yet received their first dose of the whooping cough vaccine are particularly at risk.

If you suspect a whooping cough infection, please follow these instructions

Especially in the early stages of the disease, the symptoms are similar to those of a common cold. If you are not aware of having been in contact with a person diagnosed with whooping cough by health care services, please treat the disease as you would a common cold. If you start having severe cough bouts typical of whooping cough, please contact health care services. This is especially important if you have a child under the age of 12 months or a person in the 36th week of pregnancy or later in your family.

If the infected person is a child under the age of six months or a child under the age of 12 months who has not yet received two doses of the whooping cough vaccine, please contact the Medical Helpline or emergency services. Do this even if the child is in good condition and has few symptoms between cough bouts.

A health care professional will refer you to a whooping cough test, if necessary. Testing for whooping cough is usually not necessary in the case of common upper respiratory tract symptoms, unless the patient has been in contact with a person with whooping cough or the symptoms are indicative of whooping cough.
Tests are carried out at the Tullinpuomi laboratory (HUS)(Link leads to external service) and health stations. The test is only carried out by referral. The Tullinpuomi laboratory is open Mon–Fri 7:00–15:00.

Please note that you need to wear a face mask when coming in for the test. If necessary, you can pick up a mask at the entrance lobby of the laboratory, next to registration.

Vaccination against whooping cough starts at the age of three months

According to the national vaccination programme, the whooping cough vaccine is administered at the age of 3, 5 and 12 months, 4 years, 14–15 years and 25 years. Persons starting military service or voluntary military service are also vaccinated against whooping cough.

Persons working in health care and social welfare services must be protected against whooping cough if they work at a unit caring for children aged under 12 months. The vaccine provides protection for approximately five years.

Whooping cough vaccines administered in public health care services are free of charge. Small children are vaccinated at maternity and child health clinics, schoolchildren and students are vaccinated by student health care services and 25-year-olds are vaccinated at health stations. Health care and social welfare professionals are vaccinated by their occupational health care services. Persons starting military service or voluntary military service are vaccinated at garrisons.