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J Infect Dis. 2000 Jan;181(1):210-5.

Evidence for transmission of pertussis in schools, Massachusetts, 1996: epidemiologic data supported by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis studies.

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  • 1Child Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch, Epidemiology and Surveillance Division, National Immunization Program, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


In 1996, 18 of 20 pertussis outbreaks reported in Massachusetts occurred in schools. Pertussis surveillance data were reviewed and a retrospective cohort study was conducted in a high school that experienced an outbreak. Bordetella pertussis isolates from 9 school cases and from 58 cases statewide were examined by use of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Statewide incidence rates were highest among children aged <1 year, 10-14 years, and 15-19 years (106, 117, and 104 cases per 100,000, respectively). Among 34 confirmed and 20 probable cases at the school, 61% had cough onset within 8 weeks of school opening. Five different PFGE types were identified among the 58 B. pertussis isolates from throughout the state. All 9 isolates from the affected high school were the same PFGE type. School-aged children may play an important role in pertussis epidemics. Consideration should be given to use of acellular pertussis vaccines among school-aged children.

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