Detection of Bordetella pertussis antibodies in human sera by complement-fixation and immunofluorescence

J Hyg (Lond). 1972 Mar;70(1):75-83. doi: 10.1017/s0022172400022117.


The complement-fixation test, as commonly used in the diagnosis of viral infections, was studied for its possible application to the diagnosis of whooping cough and the detection of antibody following pertussis vaccination. The results were compared with those obtained in parallel immunofluorescence tests. CFTs were performed on sera from 41 patients with whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis isolated), 125 vaccinated persons, and 618 controls; parallel tests by IF were made on sera from 24 cases of whooping cough, 36 vaccinated persons and 37 controls. Results of both tests correlated closely and showed that titres of diagnostic significance were seldom found in control sera. They also showed that, in patients suffering from whooping cough, antibody in a single specimen or a rise in antibody between paired sera was almost always demonstrated. Titres in general were lower in infants less than 6 months of age. IgG antibodies were involved in both tests. Although the number of sera tested was small both tests appear to be reliable as means of demonstrating the presence of antibody formed during the course of infection and after vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies / analysis*
  • Bordetella pertussis / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement Fixation Tests*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pertussis Vaccine
  • Whooping Cough / diagnosis
  • Whooping Cough / immunology


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Pertussis Vaccine