Bordetella pertussis animated Bordetella pertussis infections

Bordetella pertussise appearance

  • small Gram-negative coccobacilli or short rods
  • strict aerobes
  • encapsulated
  • nonmotile
  • non-spore-forming

Infections caused by Bordetella pertussis

Pertussis—commonly called whooping cough —is a highly contagious bacterial disease caused by Bordetella pertussis. Symptoms are initially mild, and then develop into severe coughing fits, which produce the namesake high-pitched "whoop" sound in infected babies and children when they inhale air after coughing. The coughing stage lasts approximately six weeks before subsiding. Prevention by vaccination is of primary importance given the seriousness of the disease in children.

The classic symptoms of pertussis are a paroxysmal cough, inspiratory whoop, and fainting and/or vomiting after coughing. The cough from pertussis has been documented to cause subconjunctival hemorrhages, rib fractures, urinary incontinence, hernias, post-cough fainting, and vertebral artery dissection. Violent coughing can cause the pleura to rupture, leading to a pneumothorax. If there is vomiting after a coughing spell or an inspiratory whooping sound on coughing, the likelihood almost doubles that the illness is pertussis (Wikipedia).

Deaths caused by Bordetella pertussis (2004)

  • Worldwide incidence:
    18,387,000 [1]
  • Worldwide deaths:
    254,000 [2]

Bordetella pertussis treatment

  • erythromycin
  • azithromycin
  • clarithromycin

  • trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole

Possible treatment
  • tetracycline
  • chloramphenicol

Antibiotic treatment unlikely to shorten duration of illness if started more than one week after symptom onset,
but mainly benefits by shortening infectious period and therefore decreasing transmission.

Bordetella pertussis vaccination




Colony appearance

Bordetella pertussis morphology Bordetella pertussis cell morphology Bordetella pertussis Gram-stain