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Bordetella pertussis is a fastidious gram-negative coccobacillus responsible for the respiratory infection commonly known as “whooping cough.” The organism is spread by respiratory droplets and is highly contagious among close contacts. The typical incubation period is 7 to 10 days, but it may be as long as 21 days. Neither natural infection nor pertussis vaccination results in long-lasting immunity, contributing to endemic infection and 3- to 5-year cycles of pertussis epidemics.

Several active components, which play a role in immunity and are responsible for the organism’s ability to cause disease, are produced by B pertussis. (1) Pertussis toxin, filamentous hemagglutinin, pertactin, and agglutinogen allow the organism to adhere to ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract, where it exerts its effects. Pertussis toxin also induces cell cytoxicity, inhibits neutrophilic and monocytic responses, and delays induction of specific immune responses....

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