Background: The clinical presentation of Bordetella pertussis can overlap with that of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV); however, management differs.
Hypothesis: First, the prevalence of B. pertussis is less than 2% among patients screened for RSV, and second the prevalence of B. parapertussis is also less than 2% among these patients.
Methods: Nasal washings submitted to a clinical laboratory for RSV screening were tested for B. pertussis and B. parapertussis, using species-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. These were optimized to target conserved regions within a complement gene and the CarB gene, respectively. A Bordetella spp. genus-specific real-time PCR assay was designed to detect the Bhur gene of B. pertussis, B. parapertussis, and B. bronchiseptica. RSV A and B subtypes were tested by reverse transcription-PCR.
Results: Four hundred and eighty-nine clinical samples were tested. There was insufficient material to complete testing for one B. pertussis, 10 RSV subtype A, and four RSV subtype B assays. Bordetella pertussis was detected in 3/488 (0.6%) (95% CI 0.1% to 1.8%), while B. parapertussis was detected in 5/489 (1.0%) (95% CI 0.3% to 2.4%). Dual infection of B. pertussis with RSV and of B. parapertussis with RSV occurred in two and in three cases respectively. RSV was detected by PCR in 127 (26.5%).
Conclusion: The prevalence of B. pertussis in nasal washings submitted for RSV screening was less than 2%. The prevalence of parapertussis may be higher than 2%. RSV with B. pertussis and RSV with B. parapertussis coinfection do occur.