Pertussis is believed to be widely underreported and under-recognized, particularly among adults. The aim of this study was to estimate the incidence of private practitioner-attended cough illness that could be attributed to Bordetella pertussis in adults aged ≥50 years in the US.
Multiple linear regressions were employed to estimate the overall incidence of pertussis. Data were extracted from IMS' private practice database of longitudinal, patient-level claims and IMS' commercial laboratory database during 4/1/2006-12/31/2010. Patients were ≥50 years old and had ≥1 ICD-9-CM claim for cough illness relating to pertussis, cough, or acute bronchitis. Pertussis positive laboratory tests, seasonal and secular variables were used for estimating the B. pertussis attributable fraction of cough illness.
During the study period, there were 20.7 million cases of cough illness among people aged 50-64 and 27.5 million cases among those ≥65; of which the model attributed 2.5 and 1.7 %, respectively, to B. pertussis. The estimated incidences of cough illness attributed to B. pertussis during the study period were on average 202 and 257/100,000 among people aged 50-64 and ≥65 years, respectively, and increased over the years in both age groups. Depending on the year, estimated pertussis incidences were 42 to 105 times higher than medically attended ones in the same database.
These findings indicate that the B. pertussis disease incidence in adults aged ≥50 years is significantly higher than generally estimated. Additional research regarding pertussis reporting and diagnosis in the adult populations is needed to validate these findings.