Pertussis is caused by the gram-negative coccobacillus Bordetella pertussis, a strict human pathogen with no known animal or environmental reservoir. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness. In adolescents and adults, infection may result in a protracted cough and is occasionally associated with substantial morbidity. In children, and particularly infants, morbidity is more often substantial, and the disease may be fatal.
In the pre-vaccine era, the disease predominantly affected children <10 years of age and usually manifested as a prolonged cough illness with one or more of the classical symptoms: inspiratory whoop, paroxysmal cough, and post-tussive emesis. In adolescents and adults, symptoms and signs of pertussis are often nonspecific.
The organism is fastidious, surviving only a few hours in respiratory secretions and thus requiring special media for culture. When considering testing for Bordetella Pertussis, PCR is the test of choice during the acute stages of pertussis infection, up to 4 weeks after the onset of symptoms.
Microbiology - Virology
PCR - Bordetella pertussis
PCR - Whooping cough
Pertussis - PCR
Whooping cough - PCR
Preferred specimen is a Nasopharyngeal or pernasal swab in VTM however is a dry swab is also an acceptable specimen (please leave dry swabs in their original containers).
Swab packs (Respiratory/Covid packs) can be requested by emailing LabInfo@cdhb.health.nz
Testing is performed daily on routine weekdays.
Please see link to Swab Guide under Additional Information section below
Chilled (2 - 8 degrees Celsius)
PCR offers a highly sensitive and specific technique for diagnostic testing and allows for same day results. PCR is more sensitive than and remains positive longer than culture. PCR is more likely than culture to detect infection in individuals treated with antibiotics.
1. Clinical pertussis infection in an unimmunised individual has an incubation period of 7 – 10 days (range 6 – 20 days).
2. The first symptomatic or catarrhal stage exhibits non-specific symptoms consistent with many different upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and it is difficult to clinically distinguish infection from other causes of URTIs. During this stage the organisms is highly communicable and most readily isolated from the posterior nasopharynx. Antibiotics can be effective at modifying the course of disease at this stage.
3. The paroxysmal phase follows the catarrhal stage and exhibits a dry non-productive cough culminating in a whoop with or without vomiting. This may persist for up to 4 weeks. There is a decrease in the number of bacteria, and antibiotics will have little or no effect at modifying the disease at this stage.
4. Complications can include otitis media, pneumonia, toxic nervous system manifestations and pneumothorax.
5. Bordetella pertussis is a fastidious organism requiring specialised growth conditions, and bacterial isolation is also reduced with an advancing disease state. DNA detection by PCR detects Bordetella pertussis with increased sensitivity and over a longer period of the disease compared to culture.
6. The PCR is able to detect one CFU (Colony Forming Unit) / millilitre. Sensitivity is increased if sampling is performed before 10 days of symptoms has elapsed
Positive results are Notifiable to the Medical Officer of Health.
Urgent testing by arrangement, please call a CHL Microbiologist to discuss.
Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis DNA detection. Nucleic acid extraction, PCR amplification and detection.
$104.82 (Exclusive of GST)
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