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Contact Network Structure Explains the Changing Epidemiology of Pertussis

Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 982-985
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194134

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Abstract

The epidemiology of whooping cough (pertussis) remains enigmatic. A leading cause of infant mortality globally, its resurgence in several developed nations—despite the availability and use of vaccines for many decades—has caused alarm. We combined data from a singular natural experiment and a detailed contact network study to show that age-specific contact patterns alone can explain shifts in prevalence and age-stratified incidence in the vaccine era. The practical implications of our results are notable: Ignoring age-structured contacts is likely to result in misinterpretation of epidemiological data and potentially costly policy missteps.

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