Pertussis, Whooping Cough

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WHOOPING COUGH (PERTUSSIS) Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease, which is transmitted through air. It is highly communicable and nearly 90% of the susceptible individuals develop the disease. (Brenner et. al, 2005). Whooping Cough or Pertussis is caused by the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis.


There are two types of pertussis: severe and mild. Severe pertussis occurs in the infants and young children. Severe pertussis is more complicated and may lead even to death, whereas, mild pertussis is hard to diagnose and it is mostly misunderstood for common cold. Bordetella pertussis was first isolated in pure culture in 1906 by Bordet and Gengou. B.pertussis is a small, gram –negative, aerobic coccobacillus of 0.8 ?m by 0.4 ?m. (Finger & von Koenig, 1996). It is arranged singly or in small groups. They also have pili-like filaments and are non-motile. B.pertussis is the most fastidious bacteria. It is transmitted from person – to – person through aerosolized droplets. (Baron, 1996) Figure 1 : Bordetella pertussis, the agent of pertussis or whooping cough. Gram stain. (CDC) (Todar, 2004) Pathogenicity B.pertussis causes respiratory tract infection in humans and warm blooded animals (Brenner et. al, 2005). The incubation period of this bacterium is 7-10 days. The bacterial cells “colonize only the ciliated cells of the respiratory mucosa.” (“Bacteria Genomes”). After the onset of the infection, the cells colonize in the mucosal membrane of the respiratory tract. The attachment of the B.pertussis occurs with the help of a pertussis toxin produced by the bacterium. The filaments those are present in the bacteria acts as a bridge between the bacterium and the ciliary receptor. ...
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