Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Pertussis : biology, epidemiology and prevention

Fondation Mérieux event

11 - 13 November 2015, Les Pensières, Annecy (France)

Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is a highly infectious disease that was previously a universal rite of passage for older infants and young children. The discovery in 1906 of its causative organism, Bordetella pertussis, led to the development of whole-cell pertussis (wP) vaccines, which by the 1930s were combined with diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids. Countries that instituted broad DTwP vaccination programs beginning in the mid-20th century saw pertussis dramatically decrease over subsequent decades. However, concerns over reactogenicity prompted some parents to refuse wP-containing vaccines for their children and some countries to cancel their programs altogether. Less reactogenic acellular pertussis (aP) vaccines were developed to address these concerns. They were deployed in Japan nearly 35 years ago, North America and much of Europe about 15 to 20 years ago, and more recently in some other middle- and high-income countries.

During the last 5 years, multiple countries (eg, Australia, UK, US) have experienced substantial increases in reported cases of pertussis. Cases among very young infants who are at greatest risk of pertussisrelated hospitalizations and mortality were most alarming. Multiple hypotheses have been posited for the current challenges with pertussis, including:

  • More sensitive diagnostic tests combined with greater pertussis disease awareness;

  • Inadequate vaccination schedules and poor compliance with vaccination recommendations;

  • Evolution of circulating pertussis strains to evade vaccine-induced immunity;

  • Suboptimal priming by and decreased duration of protection from acellular compared to whole-cell pertussis vaccines.

The purpose of this seminar is to bring together experts and interested individuals to:

  • Explore the latest trends in pertussis epidemiology;

  • Better understand the reasons for these trends;

  • Discuss potential ways in which pertussis vaccines might be improved and the practicalities of their introduction into routine use;

  • Formulate recommendations for optimal use of current vaccines, with a particular focus on strategies to minimize severe morbidity and mortality among infants during the first months of life.

Download the program1.3 Mb pdf

Top of Page