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Emerg Themes Epidemiol. 2007 Oct 19;4:15.

Estimating the role of casual contact from the community in transmission of Bordetella pertussis to young infants.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


The proportion of infant pertussis cases due to transmission from casual contact in the community has not been estimated since before the introduction of pertussis vaccines in the 1950s. This study aimed to estimate the proportion of pertussis transmission due to casual contact using demographic and clinical data from a study of 95 infant pertussis cases and their close contacts enrolled at 14 hospitals in France, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. between February 2003 and September 2004. A complete case analysis was conducted as well as multiple imputation (MI) to account for missing data for participants and close contacts who did not participate. By considering all possible close contacts, the MI analysis estimated 66% of source cases were close contacts, implying the minimum attributable proportion of infant cases due to transmission from casual contact with community members was 34% (95% CI = 24%, 44%). Estimates from the complete case analysis were comparable but less precise. Results were sensitive to changes in the operational definition of a source case, which broadened the range of MI point estimates of transmission from casual community contact to 20%-47%. We conclude that casual contact appears to be responsible for a substantial proportion of pertussis transmission to young infants.Medical subject headings (MeSH): multiple imputation, pertussis, transmission, casual contact, sensitivity analysis, missing data, community.

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