Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is one of the most common vaccine-preventable infections. In adolescents and adults, infection may result in a protracted cough and is occasionally associated with substantial morbidity. In children and particularly infants, morbidity is more often substantial and the disease may be fatal. Two types of vaccines against pertussis exist: whole-cell vaccines (wP), developed in the 1940s, containing the entire inactivated Bordetella pertussis organism, and acellular vaccines (aP) constituting of 1–5 purified bacterial proteins. The aPs were developed in the 1970s in order to diminish the adverse effects that could occur in the wP vaccinations. In many industrialized countries, aP replaced the wP formulations; however, wPs are still used for primary vaccination doses in developing countries. The massive use of both types of vaccines significantly reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease; nevertheless, pertussis is still an important public health problem. In fact, pertussis incidence has increased in many countries, with large sustained epidemics occurring most notably in developed countries that only use acellular vaccine for all the doses included in the calendar. This chapter focuses on some recent developments in the areas of epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of pertussis.
Part of the book: Pertussis