Title

A field study of household attack rates and the effectiveness of macrolide antibiotics in reducing household transmission of pertussis

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Terry, JB, Flatley, CJ, van den Berg, DJ, Morgan, GG, Trent, M, Turahui, JA, Greenwood, MC, Corben, PW & Bell, GJ 2015, 'A field study of household attack rates and the effectiveness of macrolide antibiotics in reducing household transmission of pertussis', Communicable Diseases Intelligence Quarterly Report, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 27-33.

Article available on Open Access

Abstract

Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) is an endemic, highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection, which is notifiable to Australian state and territory health departments. Between 2008 and 2011 there was a substantial outbreak in New South Wales with an initial increase in cases occurring in North Coast New South Wales from late 2007. During September and October 2011 the North Coast Public Health Unit conducted a household study of secondary attack rates to assess the effectiveness of pertussis vaccination as well as the timely use of antibiotics in preventing household transmission. At the time the study was commenced, notified cases included a large proportion of individuals with a documented history of vaccination against pertussis. We found lower attack rates amongst vaccinated compared with non-vaccinated subjects in all age groups, with the exception of the 5-11 years age group, who were also primarily responsible for the introduction of pertussis into the household. There was an increased risk of pertussis transmission from the household first primary case to contacts when antibiotic treatment was commenced later than 7 days after the onset of symptoms compared with within 7 days. This protective effect of timely antibiotic treatment in relation to transmission highlights the need to control for antibiotic treatment in field studies of pertussis. The benefits of timely diagnosis and use of antibiotics in preventing household transmission underscore the importance of early presentation and diagnosis of pertussis cases, particularly in households with susceptible occupants.