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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Review of the 2008–2009 pertussis epidemic in NSW: notifications and hospitalisations Volume 21 Issue 7-8

Paula J. Spokes, Helen E. Quinn, Jeremy M. McAnulty

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 21(8) 167–173 Published online: 27 September 2010

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Paula J. Spokes

Helen E. Quinn

Jeremy M. McAnulty


In 2008 and 2009 increased numbers of pertussis notifications were reported in NSW. During the epidemic period, the pertussis notification rate was 2.7 times higher than the previous 5-year average. Rates of pertussis notifications and hospitalisations were highest among infants aged less than 1 year across all years studied. Compared to previous years, the notification rate for children aged 1–4 years increased dramatically and was particularly striking for children aged 3 years with notifications exceeding those for infants in 2009. Changes in testing practices during the epidemic period, including a significant increase in the use of polymerase chain reaction, may account for some of the relative increase in size of the 2008–2009 outbreak compared with previous outbreak years.