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During a hospital obstetric rotation, a medical student demonstrated classic symptoms of pertussis. The diagnosis was confirmed by isolation of Bordetella pertussis. Because this exposure occurred in a high-risk hospital setting, control measures were undertaken to prevent transmission and illness.
To identify secondary cases of pertussis, to determine compliance with chemoprophylaxis recommendations, and to monitor for adverse events associated with chemoprophylaxis following a hospital exposure to pertussis.
More than 500 individuals were potentially exposed, including 168 neonates; antimicrobial chemoprophylaxis was administered to 281 individuals. Fifty-eight neonates and 194 adults began azithromycin chemoprophylaxis; 18 neonates and 2 adults began erythromycin chemoprophylaxis.
Active surveillance was instituted for (1) secondary cases of pertussis among healthcare coworkers, obstetric patients, their neonates, and labor companions and (2) antibiotic compliance and tolerance.
No secondary cases of pertussis were confirmed by laboratory tests; however, 26 suspected cases and 5 clinically compatible cases were identified. Antibiotic courses were completed by 95% of the individuals who initiated therapy. Neonates taking azithromycin had statistically significantly less gastrointestinal distress compared with neonates taking erythromycin (12% vs 50%; P = .002); there were no cases of infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis.
Although it was not possible to assess the effectiveness of the antibiotic regimens, the lack of laboratory-confirmed secondary cases suggests control measures were successful. Data from the 58 neonates who received azithromycin suggest it may be well tolerated in this age group.
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