Pertussis re-emerged in Sweden with a cumulative incidence of about 60% during the first 10 years of life, when the locally produced cellular vaccine lost its efficacy around 1970 and general vaccination was discontinued in 1979. The epidemiology, clinical features, and immunology of pertussis and a monocomponent pertussis toxoid vaccine were studied in Göteborg, Sweden.
After phase 1 and 2 studies, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pertussis toxoid (PTox), compounded with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, was administered to 3450 children according to the Swedish schedule at 3, 5, and 12 months of age. After a mean follow-up of 18 months, the efficacy was 71% overall and 75% in household contacts, respectively. A statistically significant correlation was found between the level of PTox-induced antibodies and protection against pertussis. As observed with cellular and with multicomponent acellular vaccines, PTox reduced the severity of disease and the percent of children with positive cultures. Furthermore, vaccination reduced the transmission of Bordetella pertussis to household contacts in the vaccinees compared with the controls who received only diphtheria and tetanus toxoids. Patients with culture-verified Bordetella parapertussis infection reacted with antibodies to pertactin and to filamentous hemagglutinin but not to pertussis toxin, and some subsequently developed pertussis. The antibody responses of patients with pertussis to the surface polysaccharides of B pertussis and to B parapertussis were cross-reactive serologically. Serosurveys showed that only antibodies to pertussis toxin were related to the occurrence of pertussis in the general population: antibodies to filamentous hemagglutinin and pertactin were probably stimulated by antigens of other bacteria as well as Bordetellae.
Mass vaccination of Göteborg children born in the 1990s was started in 1995. In February 1999, about 55% had been vaccinated and both B pertussis and pertussis decreased significantly in individuals of all ages (herd immunity). Similar to diphtheria, PTox-induced immunity to pertussis occurs both on an individual and community basis.
The apparent greater efficacy of multicomponent acellular pertussis vaccines compared with monocomponent PTox was proposed to be an artifact created when the diagnosis of pertussis was made by the serologic criteria of the World Health Organization only. Our conclusion is that PTox is both an essential and alone sufficient antigen in acellular pertussis vaccines.
- Received June 29, 2001.
- Accepted September 18, 2001.
- American Academy of Pediatrics