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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Feb 20;53(6):131-2.

Fatal case of unsuspected pertussis diagnosed from a blood culture--Minnesota, 2003.


Pertussis (i.e., whooping cough) is a prolonged cough illness caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and associated typically with an inspiratory "whoop," paroxysmal cough, and posttussive vomiting. B. pertussis can cause severe illness or death, especially in infants who have not completed their pertussis vaccination series. Adolescents (i.e., persons aged 13-17 years), adults, and recently vaccinated persons often report atypical symptoms, resulting in delay of recognition and creation of infectious reservoirs for further transmission. In 2003, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) investigated a fatal case of unsuspected B. pertussis infection in an elderly adult. This report summarizes the case investigation, which documents the rare isolation of B. pertussis from blood and underscores the need for clinicians to consider pertussis infection in adolescents and adults who have a prolonged cough illness.

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