Background: Bordetella pertussis is highly contagious, and because immunity wanes after vaccination, it continues to be a cause of cough among adults.
Objective: To describe the healthcare services used and productivity losses accrued by healthcare workers (HCWs) missing work due to pertussis.
Methods: After 3 pertussis cases were confirmed among HCWs, all hospital employees and patients with a cough were screened between November 2000 and March 2001. Each potential case underwent diagnostic tests and received antibiotics (spiramycin or azithromycin) when appropriate. Symptomatic employees were not allowed to return to work until they received an antibiotic for at least 5 days. Services used (physician visits and calls, antibiotics, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, and treatment provided to their contacts) were combined with cost estimates (in 2002 euros) for these services in France.
Results: Ninety-one potential cases were identified (77 HCWs, 12 patients, and 2 family members). Of them, 89% received antibiotics and 22% had at least one contact who was also treated. Approximately half (55%) of the HCWs who were cases missed 5 days of work. Four patients were admitted to the hospital as a result of the infection. The average medical cost was 297 euros per potential case: diagnostic tests accounted for 32% and hospitalization for 31%. Total cost (medical and productivity) was 46,661 euros for 91 cases, 42% from productivity losses. An investigation to identify these potential cases also accrued additional costs.
Conclusion: Serious adverse health and economic consequences arose from transmission of pertussis among HCWs, their families, and patients.