Public Health Professionals

There are materials located throughout this website that are especially relevant to public health professionals. Listed below are key resources.

Case definition

State health departments report pertussis cases to CDC through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Reporters use a standardized case definition accepted by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

View the Pertussis Case Definition
Surveillance Reports
Pertussis surveillance report

Pertussis reporting data are summarized each year in provisional and final reports. See recent surveillance reports.

Surveillance and reporting

Pertussis is nationally notifiable and clinicians should notify the appropriate health department of all patients with suspected pertussis. Similarly, diagnostic laboratories should notify health departments of all positive pertussis laboratory results. State health departments then report confirmed and probable pertussis cases to CDC through NNDSS. Although many pertussis cases are not diagnosed and therefore not reported, the surveillance system is useful for monitoring epidemiologic trends in disease over time.

Read Surveillance Reports

Postexposure antimicrobial prophylaxis

The primary objective of postexposure antimicrobial prophylaxis (PEP) should be to prevent death and serious complications from pertussis in individuals at increased risk of severe disease.

View PEP Information for Pertussis

Letter of guidance for use during outbreaks

This draft letter can be adapted for use during pertussis outbreaks in schools or other closed or contained settings.

Use Letter of Guidance Template

Specimen collection

Determining who has pertussis can be difficult. Whenever possible, clinicians should obtain a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab or aspirate from all patients who have a suspected case of pertussis. A properly obtained NP swab or aspirate is essential for optimal results.

Perform Specimen Collection

Diagnosis confirmation

Clinicians commonly use several types of laboratory tests to diagnose Bordetella pertussis. Laboratory scientists consider culture to be the gold standard because it is the only 100% specific method for identification; however, laboratory scientists can perform other tests, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology.

Diagnose and Confirm Pertussis

Surveillance manual

The Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases provides current guidelines for those directly involved in surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases. This publication is especially relevant for personnel at state and local health departments.

View the Pertussis Chapter