Patient Story: Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious illness that can cause many complications. It's also a disease that can be prevented. Cheri Rae shares the heartbreaking story of how her son's bout with pertussis changed his life. Myth or Medicine: Does everyone with pertussis actually cough with a whoop? Second Opinion 5: Five ways to prevent the spread of Whooping Cough.