Estimation of the serial interval of pertussis in Dutch households.

Increasing incidence has led to the re-appearance of pertussis as a public health problem in developed countries. Pertussis infection is usually mild in vaccinated children and adults, but it can be fatal in infants who are too young for effective vaccination (≤3months). Tailoring of control strategies to prevent infection of the infant hinges on the availability of estimates of key epidemiological quantities. Here we estimate the serial interval of pertussis, i.e the time between symptoms onset in a case and its infector, using data from a household-based study carried out in the Netherlands in 2007-2009. We use statistical methodology to tie infected persons to probable infector persons, and obtain statistically supported stratifications of the data by person-type (infant, mother, father, sibling). The analyses show that the mean serial interval is 20 days (95%CI: 16-23 days) when the mother is the infector of the infant, and 28 days (95%CI: 23-33 days) when the infector is the father or a sibling. These time frames offer opportunities for early mitigation of the consequences of infection of an infant once a case has been detected in a household. If preventive measures such as social distancing or antimicrobial treatment are taken promptly they could decrease the probability of infection of the infant.


Authors:Te Beest DE1, Henderson D2, van der Maas NA1, de Greeff SC1, Wallinga J1, Mooi FR1, van Boven M3.

Journal:Epidemics. 2014