Study identifies infants at highest risk of death from pertussis

January 10, 2013

A study released today from the upcoming issue of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (JPIDS) found that taking early and repeated white blood cell counts (WBC) is critical in determining whether infants have pertussis and which of those children are at highest risk of death from the disease.

In 2010, California reported its highest pertussis rates in 60 years. Murray, et al.'s used medical records from five Southern California Units between September 2009 and June 2011. Of the 31 infants studied, eight comprised a group considered to have more severe infections, which included suffering from and death from the pertussis.

The study showed that infants who had more severe disease had higher WBC counts and were more likely to show at least a 50% increase in WBC. Infants with more severe disease had median peak WBC counts of 74,100 compared to 24,200 among infants with less severe disease. All but one of those with more severe disease had at least a 50% increase in WBC within 48 hours, and none of those infants with less severe disease had more than a 50% increase in WBC.

Additionally, the group of infants with more severe infections had higher maximum heart and respiratory rates and was more likely to develop pneumonia. All of these conditions occurred earlier after illness onset among infants with more severe disease. This group was more likely to have seizures, hypotension/shock, , and was more likely to be intubated and receive exchange transfusions. Six of the infants received exchange transfusions, and four of those died. Those four were all in shock at the time of their transfusions; the two who survived were not in shock at the time of transfusion.

Also known as , pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Most children are vaccinated against pertussis at an early age, but infants are too young to complete the vaccination series. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2012 rates of the disease are at their highest level in 50 years and some states are reporting case counts not seen since the 1930s, which was prior to the vaccine era.

"Because very young infants have not yet been vaccinated and are at the highest risk for severe disease, we need to better manage and treat it," said Erin Murray, lead author of the study and epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health. "This study shows the importance of aggressive pediatric intensive care and provides us additional metrics as we treat these very young patients."

Explore further: Findings support safety of whooping cough vaccine for older adults

Related Stories

Findings support safety of whooping cough vaccine for older adults

November 29, 2012
A new study of the safety of the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine supports the recommendation that those 65 and older get the vaccine to protect themselves and others, particularly young babies, from ...

What did we learn from the 2010 California whooping cough epidemic?

July 19, 2012
Because whooping cough (pertussis) is almost as contagious as measles (affecting ~12-17 individuals with each case), clinicians are required to report cases of this bacterial respiratory tract infection to the state's department ...

CDC panel: all pregnant women should get whooping cough shot

October 24, 2012
(HealthDay)—All pregnant women should be vaccinated against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, preferably in their last trimester, a panel of U.S. advisers recommended Wednesday.

Pertussis reaches epidemic level in Washington state

July 20, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Pertussis rates may reach record levels this year in the United States, where Washington state is experiencing an ongoing epidemic, according to a report published in the July 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for ...

Recommended for you

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.