Clinical and microbiologic features of children presenting with pertussis to a Canadian pediatric hospital during an eleven-year period

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1994 Jul;13(7):617-22. doi: 10.1097/00006454-199407000-00007.


To characterize the morbidity of pertussis in Canada, we did a retrospective review of all children with laboratory-confirmed pertussis seen at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, between 1980 and 1990. A total of 975 patients were identified, of which 223 (23%) were admitted to hospital. The peak incidence of disease was observed in the fall. The incidence of disease did not vary with gender. Only 41% of children admitted had the classical symptoms of pertussis (paroxysmal cough and whoop). Compared with children older than 6 months of age, children younger than 6 months of age were more likely to be hospitalized, tended to be hospitalized longer, were less likely to be age-appropriately vaccinated and were more likely to require intensive care unit monitoring. Seventeen (8%) of 223 children required intensive care unit monitoring, and 12 of these children required mechanical ventilation therapy, for a duration of 3.5 +/- 0.6 days (mean +/- SD). One (0.1%) patient with secondary bacterial pneumonia died. This hospital-based study indicates that pertussis continues to be a cause of serious illness in children, particularly those younger than 6 months of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Bordetella pertussis / isolation & purification
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Nasopharynx / microbiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data
  • Whooping Cough* / diagnosis
  • Whooping Cough* / epidemiology
  • Whooping Cough* / physiopathology
  • Whooping Cough* / prevention & control


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine