Pertussis - Whooping Cough

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Biomedical illustration of a Whooping Cough infection. The bacterium Bordetella pertussis (shown enlarged in longitudinal section) is inhaled into the respiratory system where it attaches itself to the cilia of the epithelial cells lining the throat (shown enlarged, lower right). The bacteria releases tracheal cytotoxin which paralyzes the cilia and kills the cells and then reproduces and migrates toward ciliated cells in the lungs, spreading the infection. The toxin prevents the cilia from performing their sweeping action which clears debris from the airways, so the body responds by sending the host into a coughing fit. Toxins may spread throughout the body leading to further complications.