Health Advisory

Pertussis Update

To:     Health Care Providers, Hospitals, Ambulatory Care Centers
From: Susan Schoenfeld, Deputy State Epidemiologist for Infectious Disease
Date: January 26, 2012

– Please Distribute Widely –        

Pertussis 2011: 94 cases of pertussis were confirmed in Vermont. This is still a provisional total and may increase slightly. Among 80 children between the ages of 2 months and19 years with confirmed pertussis, 32.5 percent were unvaccinated or not up to date for age. Most cases (70%) occurred in Chittenden County in November and December.

January 2012: As of January 25, 26 cases have been confirmed in Chittenden (14), Washington (6) Grand Isle (2), Addison (2), Orleans (1), and Windsor counties. Many others are under investigation.

Information for clinicians
Expanded information for clinicians about pertussis has been added to the Health Department’s website:

The information below includes highlights from the Dec. 16, 2011 pertussis conference call and from materials at that web location.

Think of pertussis.
Consider pertussis as a diagnosis for anyone who has the following symptoms, regardless of vaccination history:

Report suspected cases to the Health Department’s Epidemiology Unit at 802-863-7240.

Test for pertussis.

Do not test if there are no symptoms.

For questions about testing or to order specimen collection kits, call the Health Department Laboratory at 802-863-7335.

Interpreting Test Results


Timing of specimen collection

Test result interpretation


(results within 24-96 hours of receipt at laboratory)

Collect specimens as early as possible after cough onset. PCR will detect non-viable organisms present, even in persons who have been treated with antimicrobials; however, false negatives can occur and are more common later in the illness or after start of antibiotics.

(+)   Positive: Confirms B. pertussis if patient has cough greater than 2 weeks and either paroxysmal coughing, post-tussive vomiting, or whooping.

(-)    Negative: Does not rule out B. pertussis infection; consider other factors.

Cult    Culture

(results can take up to 7 days)

Collect specimens as early as possible after cough onset. Recovering the organism is unlikely beyond 3 weeks of cough or in patients who have received antimicrobials. False negatives are common even early in illness.

(+)   Positive: Confirms B. pertussis infection.

(-)    Negative: Does not rule out B. pertussis infection; consider other factors.

Treat and report suspected and confirmed cases.
Treatment guidelines are available on the Health Department website:

For questions about treatment, call the Health Department’s Epidemiology Unit at (802) 863-7240.

Stop Transmission.

For information about ordering vaccine, call the Health Department’s Immunization Program at 802-863-7240.

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