Why Pertusis is resurgent –it’s not what you think

What are the reasons why pertusis, a vaccine-preventable disease, is epidemic?

According to an editorial by James Cherry (NEJM 2012; 367: 785-87), there are four main reasons.

  • 1) Increased awareness
  • 2) Easier detection with PCR assays
  • 3) Increased use of less potent vaccines, mainly DTaP
  • 4) Possible genetic changes in B pertusis

Useful epidemiology information:

  • 13-20% of adolescents and adults with prolonged cough have B pertusis.
  • Lowest incidence was reported in 1973: 1 per 100,000.
  • In prevaccine era, B pertusis had pattern of epidemics every 2 to 5 years, with peak incidence of 157 per 100,000.
  • In 2010, incidence was 9 per 100,000
  • Neither infection or immunization provides lifelong immunity

His recommendations/conclusions:

  • We need to use the vaccines we have.  This is necessary to avoid the ‘frightening rates of complications and death’ associated with pertusis in infants.
  • Consider starting immunization at an earlier age –1st three doses could be completed by 3 months of age
  • Improved vaccines are needed

Related blog entries:

Protecting the most vulnerable

Hepatitis A vaccine immunity –will it last?

How to stop HBV vertical transmission

5 thoughts on “Why Pertusis is resurgent –it’s not what you think

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