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Clinical definitions of pertussis: Summary of a Global Pertussis Initiative roundtable meeting, February 2011.


Existing clinical case definitions of pertussis are decades old and based largely on clinical presentation in infants and children, yet an increasing burden is borne by adolescents and adults who may manifest distinct signs/symptoms. Therefore, a "one-size-fits-all" clinical case definition is no longer appropriate. Seeking to improve pertussis diagnosis, the Global Pertussis Initiative (GPI) developed an algorithm that delineates the signs/symptoms of pertussis most common to 3 age groups: 0-3 months, 4 months to 9 years, and ≥10 years. These case definitions are based on clinical presentation alone, but do include recommendations on laboratory diagnostics. Until pertussis can be accurately diagnosed, its burden will remain underestimated, making the introduction of epidemiologically appropriate preventive strategies difficult. The proposed definitions are intended to be widely applicable and to encourage the expanded use of laboratory diagnostics. Determination of their utility and their sensitivity and/or specificity versus existing case definitions is required.

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