Increased risk of pertussis in patients with asthma

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Apr;129(4):957-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.11.020. Epub 2011 Dec 28.


Background: The recent pertussis outbreak in California highlights the effect of pertussis on public health. In 2004, a pertussis outbreak occurred in Olmsted County, Minnesota, despite a high vaccine uptake. This outbreak provided a natural experiment to assess the relationship between asthma and pertussis.

Objective: We sought to determine whether asthmatic subjects have a higher risk of pertussis than nonasthmatic subjects.

Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control study. There were 223 pertussis cases identified by means of PCR in 2004 and 2005. We identified age- and sex-matched control subjects from 5537 patients with negative test results for pertussis. We conducted a comprehensive medical record review and applied predetermined criteria to ascertain asthma status. Conditional logistic regression was fit to assess the effect of asthma status on the risk of pertussis.

Results: Of the 223 subjects, 164 were eligible for the study, and 328 matched control subjects (1:2 matching) were enrolled. Of these 164 subjects, 50% were male, and 82% were white. The median age at the index date of pertussis was 14 years. Sixty-two (38%) of the 164 cases had asthma before the index date of pertussis compared with 85 (26%) of the 328 control subjects (odds ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.12-2.67; P = 013). The population attributable risk percentage of asthma for risk of pertussis was 17%.

Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of asthma and the ongoing risk of pertussis throughout the United States, consideration of defining asthmatic subjects as a target group for pertussis vaccination (eg, replacing decennial tetanus-diphtheria booster with tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine for adolescents and adults) should be given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Risk
  • Whooping Cough / complications*
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult