Pertussis in Colombia


In August 2012, CDC-Latin American Pertussis Project conducted an initial assessment of the pertussis surveillance system and laboratory capacity in Colombia. Colombia’s Ministry of Health uses a standardized data collection form and case definitions for pertussis (known as tos ferina).

map of Colombia

The national reference laboratory, the Microbiology Group of the Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS)external icon (in Spanish), and two regional laboratories have diagnostic capacity in culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In 2014, they implemented real-time PCR as a primary diagnostic for pertussis and discontinued use of direct fluorescent antibody test (DFA).

Case Definition

The case definition for a suspected case of pertussis in Colombia includes three age groups:

  • Under 3 months: All acute respiratory infections with at least one of the following symptoms:
    • Coughing fits (paroxysmal cough)
    • Stridor
    • Apnea
    • Cyanosis
    • Posttussive vomiting
  • 3 months through 12 years: Intense paroxysmal cough of any duration accompanied by stridor OR, in absence of a more likely diagnosis, all acute respiratory infections with cough for more than 7 days with one or more of the following symptoms:
    • Paroxysmal cough
    • Stridor
    • Posttussive vomiting
  • Over 12 years: All respiratory infections with cough for more than 14 days regardless of the presence of paroxysmal cough, expectoration, or posttussive vomiting

Pertussis cases are confirmed if they meet the case definition and have positive laboratory confirmation (by culture or PCR), are epidemiology linked to a laboratory-confirmed case, or are confirmed by clinical criteria (if no sample was taken or an inadequate sample was collected) as indicated in Colombia’s guidelines for surveillance of pertussis pdf icon[16 pages]external icon (in Spanish).

Immunization Program

Colombia’s routine pertussis immunization program includes a pentavalent vaccine, which contains DTP (whole cell pertussis component), HB, and Hib, administered at 2, 4, and 6 months, with a booster of DTP given at 18 months and 5 years. In 2013 Colombia’s Ministry of Health recommended a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy (to be administered starting at 26 weeks gestation).

View Colombia’s complete vaccination schedule pdf icon[2 pages]external icon (in Spanish).

Vaccine Abbreviations
  • DTP – Diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and whole cell pertussis vaccine
  • Tdap – Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine
  • HB – Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Hib – Haemophilus influenzae serotype b vaccine
Page last reviewed: November 18, 2019