Pertussis Outbreaks and Complications

Outbreaks

The primary goal of pertussis outbreak control efforts is to decrease morbidity (amount of disease) and mortality (death) among infants; a secondary goal is to decrease morbidity among persons of all ages.

Institutional outbreaks of pertussis are common. Outbreaks after the middle school years can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades.  In school outbreaks, prophylactic antibiotics is recommended for close classroom and team contacts – and the pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) depending on age.

Complications

Teens and adults can get complications from pertussis.  They are usually less serious in this older age group, especially in those who have been vaccinated.  Complications in teens and adults are often caused by the cough itself. For example, you may pass out or fracture a rib during violent coughing fits.

In one study, less than 5% of teens and adults with pertussis were hospitalized. Pneumonia (lung infection) was diagnosed in 2% of those patients. The most common complications in another study of adults with pertussis were:

•    Weight loss (33%)

•    Loss of bladder control during coughing jags (28%)

•    Passing out (6%)

•    Rib fractures from severe coughing (4%)