A key toxin associated with whooping cough helps the germs resist the human immune system and infect vaccinated populations. Discovery of this resistance mechanism could lead to potential new treatments for the disease, according to researchers at Penn State.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the germ Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough can occur at any age but is generally considered a childhood disease marked by severe spells of coughing and a characteristic whooping sound while inhaling. Though the widespread use of vaccines has helped reduce disease drastically, recent surveys reveal that the disease is increasingly being diagnosed in a large number of vaccinated adults, posing a serious health risk to unvaccinated children and infants.
"One of the great mysteries of pertussis is how it persists within populations despite high vaccination rates," says Eric Harvill, assistant professor of microbiology and infectious disease in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Amitabh Avasthi | EurekAlert!
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