Pertussis is endemic in the Region of the Americas and many countries report outbreaks or epidemics every four to six years. In an effort to better understand this disease, PAHO/WHO’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Immunizations has established a Working Group to develop a tool to aide in the investigation and reporting of pertussis outbreaks, in order to collect information that is comparable between outbreaks and across countries. The first meeting of this Working Group was held from 4-5 March 2013 and a second meeting will take place from 6-7 May 2013. During the first meeting, a format for investigating and reporting pertussis outbreaks was de-veloped, which is now being disseminated among epidemiologists in the Region in order to solicit their comments. During the upcoming May meeting, the Working Group will analyze feedback given regarding the above document and they will also examine the pertussis outbreak reports that have occurred over the last three years. These reports will allow for the analysis of the magnitude of the outbreaks, the epidemiology of the cases, the criteria used to confirm and discard cases, case definitions, and the laboratory methods employed.
In addition to the above activities, over the last four years in the Americas, a Pertussis Surveillance Project has been carried out as a joint effort between CDC, the Sabin Institute and PAHO/WHO. This project has supported the efforts of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Panama both to improve the quality of field monitoring, as well as to update methods used for laboratory diagnosis.
All of the above information will be presented during the next meeting of PAHO/WHO’s TAG, which will be held in Quito, Ecuador from 3-5 July 2013.
Published in Global Immunization Newslette, March 2013.