Pertussis Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jan 18, 2023
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

Illnesses that mimic clinical pertussis include the following:

  • Adenoviral respiratory infection - Children present with fever, sore throat, and conjunctivitis

  • Mycoplasmal pneumonia - Patients with mycoplasmal infections have more pronounced systemic symptoms, fever and headache may occur, and rales may be appreciated on chest auscultation

  • Chlamydial pneumonia - Young infants with chlamydial infections present with staccato cough, purulent conjunctival discharge, tachypnea, rales, and wheezing

  • Respiratory syncytial virus infection - Patients present with predominantly lower respiratory tract signs (eg, wheezing, rales)

Other conditions to consider in the differential diagnosis of pertussis include the following:

  • Common cold

  • Influenza

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Interstitial pneumonitis

  • Bronchiolitis

  • Croup (Laryngotracheobronchitis)

  • Dehydration

  • Febrile Seizures

  • Fever

  • Gastroenteritis

  • Intussusception

  • Tachycardia

  • Aspiration pneumonia

  • Bacterial pneumonia

  • Viral pneumonia

  • Tuberculosis

Differential Diagnoses