The USA is experiencing a pertussis resurgence that resulted in a 60-year high of 48,000 cases in 2012. Our ability to counteract this resurgence is hampered by the fact that pertussis pathogenesis and immunity to pertussis infection are not well studied. Studies in humans are difficult due to the low frequency of pertussis in the population, the cyclical nature of incidence and the sporadic geographic distribution of cases. While existing animal models reproduce many aspects of pertussis, none of them adequately reproduces the full spectrum of disease. We describe the baboon model of pertussis. The baboon model is the first animal model that recapitulates the full spectrum of human pertussis including coughing and transmission. This model is being utilized to examine pertussis pathogenesis and host responses to infection and vaccination. It is likely the baboon model will provide an important tool in the development of improved pertussis vaccines.
Keywords: T-cell memory; Th17; baboons; pertussis; vaccines; whooping cough.