Epidemiological features of pertussis in the United States, 1980-1989

Clin Infect Dis. 1992 Mar;14(3):708-19. doi: 10.1093/clinids/14.3.708.


From 1980 through 1989, 27,826 cases of pertussis were reported to the Centers for Disease Control, for an average annual crude incidence of 1.2 cases/100,000 population. The incidence of reported disease increased in all age groups during this period, but the increase was disproportionately large among adolescents and adults. Infants between 1 and 2 months of age were at highest risk for pertussis (average annual incidence, 62.8/100,000). Infants less than 2 months of age had the highest reported rates of pertussis-associated hospitalization (82%), pneumonia (25%), seizures (4%), encephalopathy (1%), and death (1%). Rates of complication were generally higher among unvaccinated children than among those who had received three or more doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine; 64% of children 3 months to 4 years of age who had reported cases of pertussis had not been immunized appropriately for their age. Whereas control of pertussis in the United States may be further improved through increased levels of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination among eligible infants and children, the use of acellular vaccines in adolescents and adults may also be needed to reduce the burden of pertussis in very young infants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Seasons
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whooping Cough / complications
  • Whooping Cough / drug therapy
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Erythromycin