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Pertussis: a concise historical review including diagnosis, incidence, clinical manifestations and the role of treatment and vaccination in management

Versteegh, Florens GAa; Schellekens, Joop FPb; Fleer, Andréc; Roord, John Jd

Reviews in Medical Microbiology: August 2005 - Volume 16 - Issue 3 - p 79–89
doi: 10.1097/01.revmedmi.0000175933.85861.4e

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious acute bacterial disease involving the respiratory tract and is caused mainly by Bordetella pertussis. Since the last decade many developed countries experience a re-emergence of pertussis, even countries that have had high vaccination coverage for many years. In this study we review the historical facts, clinical manifestations, microbiology, pathogenesis, host defences, epidemiology, transmission, immunity, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Finally we describe some new insights in diagnosis, incidence and clinical manifestations. Special attention is given to one-point serology, re-infection with Bordetella pertussis, the decay of immunoglobulin G against pertussis toxin after Bordetella pertussis infection in different age groups, the infection frequency in the general population and the occurrence of mixed infections.

From the aGroene Hart Ziekenhuis, Department of Pediatrics, Gouda, the Netherlands

bLaboratory for Infectious Diseases, Groningen, the Netherlands

cUniversity Medical Centre Utrecht, location Wilhelmina Kinderziekenhuis, and Eijkman-Winkler Institute of Microbiology, Utrecht, the Netherlands

dFree University Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Correspondence to F.G.A. Versteegh, Groene Hart Ziekenhuis, Postbox 1098, 2800 BB Gouda, the Netherlands. E-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.