National pertussis surveillance in South Korea 1955-2011: epidemiological and clinical trends

Int J Infect Dis. 2012 Dec;16(12):e850-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2012.07.012. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Background: Although there has been substantial progress in controlling pertussis in South Korea, the reported number of pertussis case-patients has gradually been increasing during the last decade. To address this, we summarized the surveillance data on pertussis collected during the period 1955-2011. Detailed epidemiologic and clinical data were determined, primarily using data from recent years.

Methods: We analyzed data from the national surveillance system to describe the occurrence of pertussis. The annual numbers of reported pertussis case-patients were identified for the period 1955-2000. For 2001-2009, information including limited demographic characteristics and the date of onset of symptoms were identified. For 2010-2011, detailed epidemiologic and clinical information of reported pertussis case-patients were collected.

Results: During 1955-2011, the secular trend was characterized by a gradual decrease in the reported number of cases from 1955 to the late 1990s, then a recent increase starting in the early 2000s. In 2009, a large number of reported cases occurred in infants <1 year of age. In 2011, an increase in reported cases among adolescents and adults aged ≥15 years was observed. During 2010-2011, 29.8% of reported cases were not immunized and 11.3% had not been immunized in a timely manner. Of adolescents and adults aged ≥15 years, 91.7% did not have a record of immunization.

Conclusions: During 2010-2011, a shift in age group was observed in pertussis case-patients: 33.8% were young infants <3 months of age and 29.0% were adolescents and adults ≥15 years of age. Considering that infants without timely vaccination may be vulnerable to an increased risk of pertussis infection, steps to provide timely vaccination to infants, to provide Tdap vaccination to adolescents and adults, and to enhance surveillance to capture adult pertussis cases should be taken in South Korea.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Bordetella pertussis / isolation & purification*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pertussis Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / methods
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology*
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control
  • Young Adult


  • Pertussis Vaccine