Pertussis--United States, 1997-2000

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002 Feb 1;51(4):73-6.


Pertussis was a major cause of morbidity and mortality among infants and children in the United States during the prevaccine era (i.e., before the mid-1940s). Following the introduction and widespread use of whole-cell pertussis vaccine combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DTP) among infants and children in the late 1940s, the incidence of reported pertussis declined to a historic low of 1,010 cases in 1976 (Figure 1). However, since the early 1980s, reported pertussis incidence has increased cyclically with peaks occurring every 3-4 years. In 1996, less reactogenic acellular pertussis vaccines (DTaP) were licensed and recommended for routine use among infants. This report summarizes national surveillance data for pertussis during 1997-2000 and assesses the effectiveness of pertussis vaccination in the United States during this period. The findings indicate that pertussis incidence continues to increase in infants too young to receive 3 doses of pertussis-containing vaccine and in adolescents and adults. Prevention efforts should be directed at maintaining high vaccination rates and managing pertussis cases and outbreaks.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control


  • Pertussis Vaccine