Sensitivity and specificity of clinical case definitions for pertussis

Am J Public Health. 1988 Jul;78(7):833-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.78.7.833.


We evaluated the diagnostic performance of 15 clinical case definitions for pertussis in 233 patients who developed acute respiratory illness during community outbreaks in Wisconsin and Delaware. Using results from culture (Regan-Lowe media) and serology (Ig-class-specific ELISA) as diagnostic standards, cough for greater than or equal to 14 days was both sensitive (84 per cent-92 per cent) and specific (63 percent-90 per cent) in identifying patients with pertussis. This definition may be useful in monitoring pertussis outbreaks and for investigating contacts of culture-positive cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delaware
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests
  • Whooping Cough / diagnosis*
  • Whooping Cough / epidemiology
  • Wisconsin