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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Hospitalization for pertussis: profiles and case costs by age

Judith A O'Brien1* and J Jaime Caro12

Author affiliations

1 Caro Research Institute, 336 Baker Avenue, Concord, MA, USA

2 Division of General Internal Medicine, McGill University, 687 Pine Avenue, West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2005, 5:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-57

Published: 11 July 2005



Pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory illness, affects people of all ages and can have serious clinical consequences. It has been reported that from 1997–2000, 20% of all pertussis cases required hospitalization in the US. This analysis examined demographics, case fatality rate, resource use and costs of hospital care related to pertussis by age.


ICD-9 codes (033.0, 033.9) were used to identify cases of pertussis in hospital discharge databases from roughly 1,000 US hospitals in 4 states (California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts). Data from 1996–1999 were examined by age group. Separate analyses were done for infants (<1 year) and children (1–11 years); however, adolescent and adult cases were combined into one group (12+ years), due to the small number of cases. Databases were used to determine demographics, health service utilization and care costs. Cost estimates include accommodations, ancillary and physician services, reported in 2002 US$.


Of the 2,518 cases identified, 90% were infants. The inpatient case fatality rate was <1%. Of survivors, 99% were discharged home (6% with home health care); 1% required further sub-acute inpatient care. For the 2,266 infants, the mean LOS was 6 days at a cost of $9,586 per stay. Children (n = 191) had a mean LOS of 3.7 and cost of $4,729; adolescents/adults (n = 61, mean age 40 years) stayed on average 3.4 days with a cost of $5,683 per hospitalization.


Infants are responsible for the bulk of hospitalizations and generate higher inpatient costs. Costly hospital care occurs, however, in patients with pertussis at all ages.