On the U-M Gateway: King and Rohani awarded $1.7 million to help solve riddle of resurgent whooping cough
Friday, April 20, 2012
Professors Aaron King and Pej Rohani have been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a five-year study that will try to explain the changing patterns of whooping cough outbreaks, using records from several countries spanning more than 70 years.
Thanks to widespread childhood vaccination, whooping cough (pertussis) once seemed to be under control. But the bacterial illness, which in infants causes violent, gasping coughing spells, has made a comeback in the United States and some other developed countries since the 1980s. In addition, there's been a shift in who's getting sick, with fewer cases seen in preschool children and more in teenagers.
Unlike a conventional epidemiological investigation of a disease outbreak, the new U-M study will rely heavily on the use of long-term incidence reports, mathematical models of pertussis transmission and statistical methods for extracting information from data. Records from recent and historical outbreaks in several countries – including England, Wales, Sweden, Denmark, Senegal and the United States – will be analyzed.
New insights provided by the study could, for example, lead to recommendations about revising the pertussis immunization schedule for children or the design of optimal adult/adolescent boosters, according to Rohani and King.
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