Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” is a highly communicable disease caused by the coccobacillus Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis remains one of the most common causes of death from infectious diseases worldwide. We describe a 5-week-old infant girl who presented with severe pertussis infection associated with extreme leukocytosis and required prolonged extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Nitric oxide therapy resolved the pulmonary hypertension, and she was successfully weaned from ECMO and discharged home after 3 months. We report successful application of ECMO for severe pertussis-induced respiratory failure despite multiple grave prognostic indicators (<1 year age, leukocytosis, pulmonary hypertension) and discuss the role of extracorporeal life support in treating pertussis.
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