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Whooping cough

Bordetella pertussis is the organism that causes Whooping cough. It is a fastidious organism that can take up to 7 days to grow. These organisms are then confirmed by reference laboratories.

Per-nasal swab

Per nasal swabs are used for the detection of Bordetella species (whooping cough). These are special wire swabs designed to reach the per nasal area, they can be obtained from dhft.pathsupplies@nhs.net.  We do not process charcoal/aimes swabs for whooping cough


If an outbreak is suspected please notify the local health protection unit prior to sending swabs

Taking a per nasal swab

Insert the swab into the nostril and guide it gently and horizontally to the back of the nose. If an obstruction is encountered, withdraw the swab and reinsert through the other nostril.

As soon as the resistance to the posterior pharyngeal wall is felt, withdraw the swab and insert into transport medium.

Send the swab in transport media directly to the laboratory.

 Notifiable disease

Notifying Public Health England is the responsibility of the requesting clinician