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Abstract

Purpose. Pertussis remains a public health concern in most countries. Our study aimed to prospectively explore the epidemiology of pertussis in the Tunis area of Tunisia between 2007 and 2016, and to characterize the virulence-associated genes of the collected Bordetella pertussis isolates.

Methodology. Infants and children hospitalized at the Children’s Hospital of Tunis, Tunisia, between 2007 and 2016 for suspicion of pertussis were enrolled in the study. Culture and real-time PCR (qPCR) assays targeting IS481, IS1001, recA, H-IS1001 and ptxP were used to confirm the pertussis diagnosis. Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of recovered isolates was performed.

Results/Key findings. A total of 1844 children were included in the study. Overall, 306 children (16.6 %) with Bordetella infection were confirmed by qPCR. Among them, 265 (86.6 %) were confirmed as having B. pertussis (IS481+, ptxP+, H-IS1001−), 18 (5.9 %) as having Bordetella parapertussis (IS481−, IS1001+) and 11 (3.6 %) as having Bordetella spp. (IS481+, ptxP−, H-IS1001−). No Bordetella holmesii (IS481+, IS1001−, H-IS1001+) was identified. The estimated pertussis incidence in the Tunis area was 134/100 000 in children aged less than 5 years. Two epidemic peaks were observed in 2009 and 2014. Ten B. pertussis isolates were cultured and characterized. Deficiency in pertactin expression was not observed, and genotyping of the isolates revealed a predominant allelic profile: ptxP3-ptxA1-prn2-fim2-1-fim3-2.

Conclusion. This study demonstrated that pertussis is still present as a cyclical disease in Tunisia, despite high primo-vaccination coverage with a pertussis whole-cell vaccine. The predominant genotype of Tunisian B. pertussis isolates is similar to isolates circulating in countries using the acellular vaccine.

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2018-12-10
2020-01-23
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