Bordetella Infection And Immunity

Gwendolyn E Wood and Richard L Friedman, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Bordetella pertussis is a strict human pathogen which causes the respiratory disease whooping cough or pertussis. The other Bordetella species (B. parapertussis, B. bronchiseptica, B. avium and B. hinzii) are primarily animal pathogens but can, at times, cause disease in humans.

It is estimated that over 60 million cases of pertussis occur worldwide each year, resulting in 700000 deaths. Clinically, pertussis has three phases. The disease begins with the catarrhal phase which may last from 7 to 21 days and is typified by symptoms similar to a common cold. The paroxysmal phase begins with severe, violent coughing spells and an inspiratory 'whoop' typical of the disease. This intense coughing lasts 2-4 weeks and can result in cyanosis, vomiting, severe exhaustion and death in infants. During the final or convalescent phase, cough paroxysms gradually decrease over 3—4 weeks. Although pertussis is considered a childhood disease, recent studies have demonstrated a high incidence of pertussis in adults.

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