oa South African Family Practice - An outbreak of pertussis in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 2008-2009 : original research

Volume 53, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



In April 2008, the first case of pertussis since 1998 was diagnosed in the Free State province. The outbreak that occurred over a 12-month period is described in this article.

This is a case series of 18 children diagnosed with pertussis in Bloemfontein, Free State province, between April 2008 and March 2009. The clinical diagnosis was confirmed by means of a Bordetella polymerase chain reaction test done on a nasal swab. Data were collected from every child with a confirmed diagnosis of pertussis.
Eighteen cases of pertussis were diagnosed in the 12-month period; 15 in the public sector and three in the private sector. A peak of cases was observed in the autumn and early winter months. Twelve infants were under six months of age and were thus regarded as "pre-vaccinated". Fourteen children required admission to hospital, of whom five required intensive care. No deaths occurred. The cost of managing these children was high.
Pertussis is not commonly diagnosed in South Africa. Young children are worst affected by the disease. Ongoing surveillance is needed. A vaccination plan to prevent pertussis in South Africa requires consideration.

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