Clinical and laboratory features of pertussis in hospitalized infants with confirmed versus probable pertussis cases.

The clinical presentations of pertussis infection have considerable variation. Many infections and illnesses can cause prolonged repetitive paroxysmal cough that could be confused with Bordetella pertussis infection.


This retrospective study was designed to compare the clinico-laboratory findings between two groups of hospitalized infants with confirmed, and those who have clinical pertussis disease; to identify the possible additional diagnostic clues “for the diagnosis of confirmed pertussis disease”.


The study population consisted of infants ≤12 months of age with clinical diagnosis of pertussis that fulfilled the World Health Organization definition for pertussis or those diagnosed by physicians. Clinico-laboratory findings were compared between two groups of patients (confirmed vs. clinical cases).


From a total of 118 infants admitted with a clinical diagnosis of pertussis, 16% (19/118) were confirmed by laboratory to have confirmedpertussis. Twelve of 19 (63%) and 71.99% of confirmed and clinical cases were younger than 6 months of age, respectively. For most patients, the duration of symptoms before hospitalization was <14 days. There were no significant differences between two groups of patients for paroxysmalcough and facial discoloration. However, whoop and apnea were more common among confirmed pertussis cases: P = 0.01, and P = 0.02, respectively. Leukocytosis (≥16,000/ml) (P = 0.01) and lymphocytosis (≥11,000) (P = 0.02) were reported significantly more frequently in confirmedpertussis cases.


Given the unavailability of a highly sensitive diagnostic test, in every afebrile patient with paroxysmal cough lasting for ≥7 days associated with whoop and/or apnea, particularly if accompanied by leukocytosis/lymphocytosis, pertussis disease should be considered. In this situation, prompt administration of empiric treatment for cases, and providing control measures to prevent infection transmission to contacts are recommended.


Authors:Shojaei J1, Saffar M2, Hashemi A3, Ghorbani G1, Rezai M2, Shahmohammadi S4.

Journal:Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014