Pertussis historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Yazan Daaboul, M.D.; Luke Rusowicz-Orazem, B.S.; Serge Korjian M.D.

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The first description of pertussis dates back to the 12th century. The earliest outbreaks of pertussis were recognized by Bahaodwole Razi in 1502 in Persia and by Guillaume de Baillou in 1578 in France. Bordetella pertussis was first isolated by Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou in 1906. Bordet and Gengou developed the first vaccine and serological test for Pertussis. In the 1940s, Grace Elderling, Loney Gordon, and Pearl Kendrick combined diphtheria and tetanus with the pertussis and develop the first combination DTP vaccine. In response to adverse side effects of DTP, a safer acellular DTaP vaccine was created in Japan in 1981.

Historical Perspective

Discovery and Isolation

  • The earliest description of Pertussis dates back to the 12th century.
  • The characteristic whooping cough was often described as "the kink" or "the kindhoest".[1]
  • In 1502, the first outbreak of Pertussis was reported by the Persian Physician Bahaodowle Razi in the Persian Empire.[2]
  • In 1578, pertussis outbreak was first reported in Paris by French physician Guillaume de Baillou.[1]
  • Bordetella pertussis was first isolated in 1906 by Belgian biologists Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou.

Development of Treatment Strategies

  • Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou developed the first vaccine and serological test for pertussis following the discovery of the Bordetella pertussis organism.
  • In 1942, American scientists Grace Eldering, Loney Gordon, and Pearl Kendrick combined the whole-cell pertussis vaccine with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids to generate the first DTP combination vaccine.
  • In 1981, an acelluar vaccine was created in Japan and was added in 1992 to the DTP Vaccine to create the DTaP vaccine. Compared with the DTP vaccine, the DTaP vaccine had a much smaller rate of adverse side effects.[3]

Historical Incidence

  • The highest recorded annual incidence of pertussis occurred in 1934 when more than 260,000 cases were reported.
  • The incidence of reported pertussis disease declined substantially in the 1940s as use of whole-cell DTP vaccines became widespread.
  • By 1970, the reported incidence had declined greater than 99%, only 1,010 cases were reported in 1976.
  • A rise in the incidence of pertussis was observed in the early 1980s reported pertussis, and cyclical peaks in incidence occurred in 1983, 1986, 1990, and in 1993.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cherry, James D. (November 1996). "Historical Review of Pertussis and the Classical Vaccine" (PDF). Journal of Infectious Diseases. Oxford. 174 (3): 259–263. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  2. Yarmohammadi H, Bahmani Kazeruni MH, Soofi A, Zargaran A (2015). "The First Report of Epidemic Pertussis by Bahaodowle Razi From the 15th Century Anno Domini". Iran Red Crescent Med J. 17 (7): e13454. doi:10.5812/ircmj.13454. PMC 4580069. PMID 26413316.
  3. Pichichero ME, Rennels MB, Edwards KM, Blatter MM, Marshall GS, Bologa M; et al. (2005). "Combined tetanus, diphtheria, and 5-component pertussis vaccine for use in adolescents and adults". JAMA. 293 (24): 3003–11. doi:10.1001/jama.293.24.3003. PMID 15933223. Review in: Evid Based Med. 2006 Apr;11(2):51

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