University of Michigan
The recent resurgence of pertussis in England and Wales has been marked by infant deaths and rising cases in teens and adults. To understand which age cohorts are most responsible for these trends, we employed three separate statistical methods to analyze high-resolution pertussis reports from 1982 to 2012. The fine-grained nature of the time-series allowed us to describe the changes in age-specific incidence and contrast the transmission dynamics in the 1980s and during the resurgence era. Our results identified infants and school children younger than 10 years of age as a core group, prior to 2002: pertussis incidence in these populations was predictive of incidence in other age groups. After 2002, no core groups were identifiable. This conclusion is independent of methodology used. Because it is unlikely that the underlying contact patterns substantially changed over the study period, changes in predictability likely result from the introduction of more stringent diagnostics tests that may have inadvertently played a role in masking the relative contributions of core transmission groups.