Seroprevalence of pertussis in China: Need to improve vaccination strategies


Pertussis remains an important cause of infant death worldwide and is an ongoing public health concern even in countries with high vaccination coverage. A cross-sectional seroepidemiological study was undertaken to estimate true incidence rates and gain further insight into the epidemiology and burden of pertussis in China. During 2011, a total of 1080 blood samples were obtained from healthy individuals between 0 and 86 y of age in Zhengzhou, Central China. Serum IgG antibodies against pertussis toxin (PT) and filamentous hemagglutinin (FHA) were measured quantitatively using ELISA. The results showed that the geometric mean titers of PT and FHA IgG were 6.48 IU/mL (95% CI: 5.70–7.41 IU/mL) and 11.39 IU/mL (95% CI: 10.22–12.87 IU/mL) among subjects less than 4 y of age, indicating that pertussis antibody levels were low despite high vaccination coverage. Of the 850 subjects ≥4 y of age, 56 (6.6%) had anti-PT IgG titers above 30 IU/mL, and 11 (1.3%) had antibodies titers above 80 IU/mL. The estimated age-specific incidence of infection with B. pertussis revealed a peak incidence in the 31 to 40 y age group, followed by the 41 to 60 y age group. Taken together, these results indicate that pertussis is common in Chinese subjects in Zhengzhou, especially in adults, suggesting that the disease burden is underestimated in China. Therefore, our study stresses the importance of strengthening the diagnostic capacity and improving surveillance system for delineating current epidemiological profiles of pertussis. Most importantly, it may be advisable to re-evaluate the current Chinese pertussis immunization schedule and implement to booster doses for older children, adolescents and adults.

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Seroprevalence of pertussis in China: Need to improve vaccination strategies