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Economic Impact of Pertussis

Michael E. Pichichero, MD; John Treanor, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(1):35-40. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170380039006.
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Objective:  To assess the economic consequences of pertussis in Monroe County, New York (population, 713 969), during a 6-year period (1989-1994).

Methods:  Cases of pertussis were identified retrospectively by passive reporting and diagnosis based on culture, positive results of direct fluorescent antibody testing, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clinical criteria (cough for >14 days otherwise unexplained or for >7 days with paroxysms or whoop epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case). One hundred seven (50%) of 216 subjects with identified cases of pertussis completed questionnaires and had medical records reviewed to ascertain the costs of illness, including physician office visits, laboratory tests, medications, hospitalization, emergency department visits, additional child care, and lost days from school (children) or from work (parents or adult cases).

Results:  Ninety-three (87%) of the pertussis cases occurred in children. The average duration of illness before diagnosis was 21.3 days (range, 12-37 days). One hundred one patients (94%) saw a physician at least once; overall, the average number of visits per case was 3.2 (range, 1-15). Ninety-seven patients (91%) received at least 1 course of antibiotic therapy (average cost for all antibiotics, $95/case), and all took symptomatic treatment (average cost, $48/case). Fifteen patients (14%) required hospitalization; average cost per admission was $13 425 (range, $1732-$69 637). Thirty patients (28%) were seen in emergency departments; average cost was $202 (range, $69-$289). Additional child care costs ranged from $12 to $2688. For 50 families, 1 adult lost workdays because of illness or to provide child care for an average of 8.3 days (range, 1-45 days). For 4 families, 2 adults lost an average of 44 days from work (range, 10-120 days). The cumulative number of lost workdays was 758 in association with the 107 cases of pertussis. The average full recovery time from illness was 72.9 days (range, 25-115 days).

Conclusions:  Total direct and indirect cost for 107 cases of pertussis in Monroe County was $381 052. The economic burden of pertussis is substantial and encourages broader use of vaccination to prevent disease.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:35-40

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