Analyses of serological and social contact data from five European countries by Mirjam Kretzschmar and colleagues show that childhood vaccination against Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) has shifted the burden of infection from children to adolescents and adults. Adolescents and adults rarely develop severe pertussis.
The research appears in PLoS Medicine, published by the Public Library of Science.
Two new statistical methods were used to estimate the incidence and basic reproduction number of pertussis. The authors used cross-sectional data on the seroprevalance of antibodies to pertussis toxin and cross-sectional data on social contact patterns from 5 countries. The results of this study suggest that in countries with high childhood vaccine coverage, adolescents and young adults are reservoirs for asymptomatic pertussis infection.
The researchers suggest pertussis could be eliminated if a vaccine or vaccine schedule could be developed that provided life-long protection against pertussis.
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