Abstract

Background: Bordetella pertussis can cause severe respiratory disease and death in children. In recent years, large outbreaks have occurred in high-income countries; however, little is known about pertussis incidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: We evaluated antibody responses to pertussis toxin (Ptx) from individuals aged between 2 and 90 years in rural Gambia. IgG-Ptx was measured using luminex xMAP technology. IgG-Ptx geometric mean concentrations (GMC) and their 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The proportion seropositive (>20 EU/mL or ≥62.5 EU/mL) and GMCs were compared by age, sex, ethnic group, vaccination status, birth order and number of siblings per household using logistic and linear regression. Results: 76.3% had anti-Ptx levels <20 EU/mL, 17.5% had concentrations between 20 and 62.5 EU/mL, 4.4% had concentrations between 62.5 and 125 EU/mL and 1.8% had concentrations ≥125 EU/mL. The overall Ptx antibody GMC was 6.4 EU/mL (95% confidence interval: 5.8–6.9). Higher antibody concentrations were observed in older populations with evidence for an increase in infection risk with increasing age (1.9% yearly increase, 95% confidence interval: 1.3–2.5). No child under 6 years of age had GMC above 62.5 EU/mL but 29.5% had concentrations between 20 and 62.5 EU/mL. Conclusions: These data provide evidence that B. pertussis is being transmitted within this population despite high vaccination coverage. Re-infection may occur implying that immunity from childhood vaccination may not be lifelong. In the absence of data on actual clinical cases of pertus-sis, seroprevalence studies remain valuable tools to assess the transmission dynamics of B. pertussis.

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