General Description: Pertussis (aka, whooping cough) is a vaccine-preventable bacterial disease with several clinical stages – a catarrhal stage (inflammation of mucus membranes of throat and upper airway) that progresses to a paroxysmal cough or “whoop.” The highest mortality is in the pediatric group; in adults, spectrum of illness ranges from chronic cough to a full blown paroxysmal whoop.
Mode of Transmission: Droplet spread from infectious respiratory secretions.
Efficiency of Transmission/Attack Rate: Cases of pertussis in adults have occurred in those who have received a primary series of childhood immunizations due to waning immunity. ACIP recommends a single booster dose of tetanus diphtheria pertussis vaccine (Tdap) for adults who have not had a booster in more than 10 years.
Period of Communicability: During catarrhal phase and early cough phase of illness (3 weeks). A patient who is treated in this 3-week period is no longer infectious after the first 5 days of appropriate antibiotic therapy.
Effect on LEO Fitness for Duty: Prolonged and paroxysmal cough may interfere with routine communication, surveillance, and patrol, and the physical demands of the job.
LEO-specific Clinical Studies and Reports: None known.