Bordetella pertussis is the bacterium responsible for causing the infection pertussis; which is commonly known as whooping cough, because of the shrill whooping sound made when trying to inhale amidst severe coughing.
The first outbreaks were described in the 16th century, before the childhood vaccination began being administered in the 1950s. The bacterium was discovered in 1906, by two French scientists. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection treated with antibiotics, and in the worst case scenario can be deadly.
There has been a recent increase in the number of reported cases. As of July 2012 the CDC has reported 18,000 nationwide, with that number of incidences, by this time in a year, not seen since 1959 when 40,000 cases were reported