Pertussis (whooping cough) is an important cause of infant death worldwide and continues to be a public health concern even in countries with high vaccination coverage. Estimates from WHO suggest that, in 2008, about 16 million cases of pertussis occurred worldwide, 95% of which were in developing countries, and that about 195 000 children died from the disease.
Following an incubation period of 9–10 days (range 6-20 days), patients develop catarrhal symptoms including cough. In the course of 1–2 weeks, coughing paroxysms ending in the characteristic whoop may occur.
For several decades, infant immunization programs using pertussis vaccines of documented quality have been highly successful in preventing severe pertussis in infants all over the world.