Underdetection and underreporting of pertussis in children attended in primary health care centers: Do surveillance systems require improvement?

Rubén Solano, Inma Crespo, María Isabel Fernández, Carles Valero, María Isabel Álvarez, Pere Godoy, Joan A. Caylà, Àngela Domínguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Pertussis is an underestimated disease. Several European countries have developed models to account for underreporting of pertussis. The aim of this study was to estimate pertussis underdetection and underreporting in pediatric patients attending primary health care centers (PHCCs). Methods We reviewed clinical records of PHCCs in Barcelona in 2012. Factors associated with underdetection and underreporting were analyzed by logistic regression. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated. Results We included 3,505 children aged < 7 years (mean age, 34  ±  20.7 months; range, 0-82 months) presenting with cough; 9.3% (326 out of 3,505) of patients also had ≥ 1 symptoms related to pertussis accompanied by cough for a duration ≥ 2 weeks. Of the 326 children receiving clinical criteria, only 31 (9.5%) were laboratory-confirmed and 6 (1.8%) were detected but not reported. There were 295 (90.5%) undetected suspected pertussis cases. Age ≥ 18 months (aOR, 8.51; 95% CI, 1.82-39.86), cyanosis (aOR, 6.71; 95% CI, 1.43-31.39), request for chest radiograph (aOR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.07-0.99), and request for other laboratory tests (aOR, 5.39; 95% CI, 2.19-13.27) were associated with underdetection. Paroxysmal cough (aOR, 5.77; 95% CI, 1.05-31.76) and request for other laboratory tests (aOR, 2.91; 95% CI, 1.11-7.62) were associated with underreporting. Conclusions Both underdetection and underreporting complicate the understanding of pertussis epidemiology. Correct assessment of pertussis symptoms and notification of cases must be improved to control pertussis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e251-e256
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Disease notification
  • Epidemiology
  • Family physicians
  • Infection control
  • Pediatric infection
  • Whooping cough

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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