Bordetella pertussis- An Overview


Bordetella pertussis is a pathogenic Gram-negative aerobic bacterium that is the causative agent of the disease pertussis or whooping cough . B. pertussis is the type species of Bordetella that consists of minute mesophilic coccobacillus that facilitates the colonization of animal tissues. B. pertussis is one of the eight species belonging to the genus Bordetella and one of the seven pathogenic species, most of which are associated with respiratory infections in humans and other animals . These are obligate pathogens of humans colonizing the ciliary epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. These are rarely present in the environment except in the form of aerosols and droplets, which is also the mode of transmission of the disease . It is an important pathogenic species of the genus Bordetella characterized by different virulence factors that enable infections. B. pertussis is a fastidious, slow-growing organism causing infections only in humans. The disease in humans is the result of excellent colonization and mesophilic growth. The infection in humans by B. pertussis is similar to infections caused by B. parapertussis in sheep as well as humans. Most Bordetella species are isolated from warm-blooded animals like humans which are mostly present in the respiratory tract of the host. However, recently these microorganisms can be isolated from other parts like human blood and human wound cultures. The bacterium was first isolated by Bergey, Harrison, Breed, Hammer, and Huntoon in 1923 and it was named Haemophilus pertussis. It was later renamed Bordetella pertussis in 1952 by Moreno-Lopez. The species name ‘pertussis’ is taken from two Latin words; ‘per’ meaning very and ‘tussis’ meaning cough, representing the severe cough caused by the bacterium. Pertussis is a severe respiratory infection that affects both the upper and lower respiratory tract of humans and is particularly severe in infants of developing countries . There have been major improvements in the reduction of pertussis by the development and improvement of vaccines over the years. However, the disease continues to be an issue in various countries with more health systems . B. pertussis is a Biosafety Level 2 pathogen that should be handled by following specific guidelines and regulations.