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New Study Confirms Role for Pertussis Immunization of Entire Family,in Reducing Infant Pertussis

Majority of Infants Infected by Members of Their Own Household

SWIFTWATER, Pa., March 27, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study released today in the April issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal about the transmission of pertussis -- commonly known as whooping cough -- found that household members were the source for 71 to 82 percent of cases among infants for whom a source case could be identified.(1) The study demonstrates the importance of vaccination of close contacts of infants to reduce the number of infant pertussis cases and potentially save lives.(1,2)

The study, the first simultaneous evaluation of infant pertussis conducted in four countries [including the United States], was led by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and was supported by sanofi pasteur, the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis Group. This study was conducted over a 20-month period and found that, among infants with pertussis for whom the source could be identified, parents were the source of 55 percent of cases, followed by siblings (16 percent), aunts/uncles (10 percent), friends/cousins (10 percent), grandparents (6 percent), and part-time caregivers (2 percent).(1) In previous studies, identifying the source of infection was hindered by incomplete case data and less comprehensive laboratory evaluation of contacts.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection. The disease is spread though airborne droplets that are transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may start with symptoms similar to a mild cold or a dry cough that persists and eventually worsens. The infected person may look and feel healthy between episodes of coughing. If left untreated, pertussis can be spread for several weeks. At particular risk are newborns who have not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated against the disease.(3) They are more vulnerable to severe pertussis and face the p
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