Whooping cough or pertussis was a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in the world until the introduction of a whole-cell vaccine in the 1940's. However, since the early 1980's whooping cough cases have increased in many countries, becoming an important problem of public health. This increase may be due to accuracy of laboratory diagnosis and reporting of the disease, a decline in immunity over time, demographic changes, and adaptation of the bacterial population to vaccine-induced immunity. The purpose of this study was to analyze phenotypically and genotypically a collection of 67 Bordetella pertussis isolates recovered during the period 1988-2002 in São Paulo State, Brazil to determine their characteristics and relatedness. All isolates were submitted to susceptibility testing to erythromycin, serotyping, and 56 isolates were analyzed by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE). All isolates were susceptible to erythromycin and the majority of them belonged to serotype 1,3. The 56 isolates were classified into 11 PFGE profiles according to the differences in banding patterns. Although more than 60% of the isolates were recovered from patients aged less than three months, almost 15% of them were isolated from adolescents/adults evidencing the increase in the incidence of pertussis among this group of age.
Bordetella pertussis; Whooping cough; Serotypes; Genetic profiles