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Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Jul;31(1):7-14. Epub 2000 Jul 24.

Antibody responses to Bordetella pertussis antigens and clinical correlations in elderly community residents.

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Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 44106, USA.


A serological study to determine the frequency of Bordetella pertussis infection in 100 adults aged >/=65 years was carried out over a 3-year period. Ten serum samples (collected every 4 months) from each subject were examined for IgA and IgG antibodies to the following B. pertussis antigens: pertussis toxin (PT), filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA), pertactin, and fimbriae-2. A >/=2-fold titer increase in ELISA units from one time period to the next was considered serological evidence of infection. The rate of serologically defined infection (i.e., in which there was an increase in titer against any antigen) was 19.7 per 100 person-years. With the use of more specific criteria that indicate definite B. pertussis infection (>/=2-fold increase in titer to PT) and probable B. pertussis infection (>/=2-fold increase in titer to PT or >/=2-fold increase to fimbriae-2), the rates were 3.3 and 8.0 per 100 person-years, respectively. Fifty percent of individuals with definite B. pertussis infections had time-associated symptomatology. Antibody patterns over time suggest that antibody to FHA and perhaps to pertactin is stimulated by infections with other organisms, as well as B. pertussis infections. Our data suggest that symptomatic pertussis occurs in elderly individuals. Consideration should be given to immunization of the elderly with acellular pertussis vaccines.

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