Bordatella pertussis infection leads to a chronic, debilitating, and paroxysmal cough that can last for months to years. Incidence of B pertussis in the immunized adult population is rising nationwide, but many otolaryngologists are unfamiliar with the diagnosis and management of this disease. Adults often present late in the disease process when traditional diagnostic testing is ineffective and without the classic pediatric symptoms of whooping cough. As a result, B pertussis infections in adults are often overlooked or misdiagnosed as asthma exacerbations or viral bronchitis, leading to increased morbidity, unnecessary testing, and additional exposure of vulnerable populations to the pathogen. This commentary describes 3 adult cases of B pertussis confirmed with serum testing in the ambulatory population and describes varied presentations based on time from initial infection. Specific emphasis is presented on the physical manifestations of the disease in laryngeal structures, methods of diagnosis, and recommendations for treatment.
Journal:Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014