Associate Professor Lan's laboratory team led by postdoctoral research associate Dr Sophie Octavia analysed close to 200 samples of the B. pertussis bacterium, collected from 2008 to 2010 over four states, NSW, Vic, SA and WA.
The team worked closely with researchers from the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Westmead (A/Prof Vitali Sintchenko and Prof Lyn Gilbert), Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide (Dr Andrew Lawrence), Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth (Dr Tony Keil); and Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, The University of Melbourne (Dr Geoff Hogg).
The findings suggest that while the current vaccination remains effective against most forms of whooping cough, its use could be contributing to the emergence of new and potentially more dangerous clones, Associate Professor Lan said.
First introduced in Australia in 1997, the ACV vaccination replaced the whole-cell vaccine (WCV), due to concerns about the latter's side-effects.
"The whole cell vaccine contained hundreds of antigens, which gave broad protection against many strains of B. pertussis," said Associate Professor Lan. "But the acellular vaccine contains only three to five antigens.
"If the ACV is less effective against these new strains, we need to ask what other strategies can be used to combat the epidemic, which is ongoing."
There has been growing concern among public health officials about the rising incidence of whooping cough in Australia. The death rate for babies under the age of six months who catch pertussis is one in 200, according to NSW Health, which says adults and adolescents are at particular risk of contracting the d
|Contact: Ruiting Lan|
University of New South Wales