We describe the investigation and containment of an outbreak of pertussis on a neonatal unit. Bacterial culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology were used to confirm suspected cases. Two infants with pertussis were identified and a nurse with prolonged cough was traced as the likely source. Control interventions included mass chemoprophylaxis of healthcare workers and patients and exclusion from work of healthcare workers with cough. The use of PCR allowed rapid assessment of the extent of the outbreak. This outbreak highlights the risk to hospitalised infants posed by circulation of Bordetella pertussis in young adults and illustrates the utility of PCR in rapidly assessing the extent of outbreaks. Prevention strategies such as universal vaccination of adolescents, or selective vaccination of healthcare workers, should be considered in the UK.
- Neonatal unit
- Polymerase chain reaction