Objective: The authors had for aim to analyze pertussis epidemiology in Tunisia by studying nasopharyngeal specimens of infants hospitalized in Tunis.
Methods: Between march 2007 and march 2008, clinical nasopharyngeal samples were collected from infants with a suspected diagnosis of whooping cough, pertussoid cough, or pertussis-like syndrome, admitted at the Tunis children's hospital. The laboratory diagnostic criteria were culture isolation of Bordetella species on Bordet-Gengou medium and real-time PCR.
Results: Fifty-nine percent of the 74 investigated children with suspected pertussis were less than two months of age. The diagnosis of pertussis was proved positive by real-time PCR for 41%. Culture was negative in all cases.
Conclusions: Whooping cough is still prevalent in Tunisia despite an important vaccination coverage. Real-time PCR is an invaluable tool for the rapid diagnosis of pertussis, however culture must also be associated.
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