Morbidity of pertussis in adolescents and adults

J Infect Dis. 2000 Jul;182(1):174-9. doi: 10.1086/315648. Epub 2000 Jun 30.


The effect of age on the clinical presentation of pertussis was assessed in 664 adolescent and adult cases. Complications were more frequent in adults than in adolescents (28% vs. 16%). Pneumonia occurred in 2% of patients <30 years old but in 5%-9% of older patients. Urinary incontinence occurred in 34% of women >/=50 years old. Duration of cough, risk of sinusitis, and number of nights with disturbed sleep increased with smoking and asthma. The secondary attack rate in other household members >/=12 years was 11%. Pertussis in secondary case patients was less severe than in index case patients but presented with classic symptoms. The main source of infection in adolescents was schoolmates or friends; in adults it was workplace or their children. Teachers and health care workers had a greater risk of pertussis than did the general population. The burden of disease appears to increase with age, with smoking, and with asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Social Change
  • Whooping Cough / complications
  • Whooping Cough / drug therapy
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / transmission


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents