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APPENDIX B. CDC and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Pertussis Case Definition*

Clinical Case Definition

  • a cough illness lasting at least 2 weeks with one of the following: paroxysms of coughing, inspiratory "whoop," or posttussive vomiting, and without other apparent cause (as reported by a health-care professional)

Laboratory Criteria for Diagnosis

  • isolation of Bordetella pertussis from a clinical specimen, or
  • positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for B. pertussis

Case Classification


  • an acute cough illness of any duration associated with B. pertussis isolation, or
  • a case that meets the clinical case definition and is confirmed by PCR, or
  • a case that meets the clinical definition and is epidemiologically linked directly to a case confirmed by either culture or PCR


  • a case that meets the clinical case definition, is not laboratory confirmed by culture or PCR, and is not epidemiologically linked directly to a laboratory-confirmed case.

Sources: Guidelines for the control of pertussis outbreaks. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. Available at Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. CSTE position statement, 1997-ID-9: Public health surveillance control and prevention of pertussis. Available at

* Both probable and confirmed cases should be reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (

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