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Health Indicator Report of Pertussis

Pertussis or "whooping cough" is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Since vaccine-induced immunity to Bordetella pertussis is of limited duration, many adolescents and most adults have little or no residual immunity. Most reported pertussis cases among adolescents and adults are thought to occur because of this decline in protective immunity. Infants who are too young to have been fully vaccinated are at high risk of severe and potentially life-threatening illness from exposure to persons with active disease. Pertussis vaccine led to a dramatic decrease in the incidence of the disease, from approximately 150 cases per 100,000 population pre-vaccine in the 1940s to about 1 case per 100,000 by 1980; however, pertussis disease rates have increased since 1980.

Pertussis Cases per 100,000 Population by County, New Mexico, 2013-2017


Includes confirmed and probable cases.

Data Sources

  • New Mexico Data Source, 2006 and later: New Mexico Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NM-EDSS), Infectious Disease Epidemiology Bureau, New Mexico Department of Health.
  • Population Estimates: University of New Mexico, Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) Program,
  • U.S. Data Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS)

Data Interpretation Issues

Probable case definition: In the absence of a more likely diagnosis, a cough illness lasting more than 2 weeks, with at least one of the following symptoms: paroxysms of coughing, inspiratory 'whoop', post-tussive vomiting, and absence of laboratory confirmation and no epidemiologic linkage to a laboratory-confirmed case of pertussis. Confirmed case definition: 1) Acute cough illness of any duration, with isolation of Bordetella pertussis from a clinical specimen, or 2) cough illness lasting more than 2 weeks, with at least one of the following symptoms: paroxysms of coughing, inspiratory 'whoop', or post-tussive vomiting, and at least one of the following: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive for pertussis, or contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of pertussis. NMDOH relies on health care providers, laboratories, hospitals, clinics, institutions and individuals to report suspected and confirmed notifiable infectious diseases in accordance with New Mexico Administrative Code Under-reporting can occur due to lack of awareness about reporting requirements or lack of compliance with those requirements. Not all cases of infectious diseases can be detected for various reasons including lack of access to health care services, lack of laboratory testing or concerns about confidentiality. Specific and standardized national case definitions are used to classify disease reports by case status. To report a notifiable disease incident, contact the Epidemiology and Response Division at the New Mexico Department of Health, (505) 827-0006.


The number of probable and confirmed cases of Pertussis per 100,000 population (person-years at risk).


Number of confirmed and probable pertussis cases that occurred during the measurement (time) period.


Estimated total population at risk during the measurement (time) period.

Other Objectives

Similar to HealthyPeople 2020 Objective IID-1.6: Reduce cases of pertssis among children under 1 year of age, and IID-1.7, Reduce cases of pertussis among adolescents aged 11 to 18 years New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI)

How Are We Doing?

New Mexico has experienced pertussis rates of epidemic proportions since 2011. In 2012, New Mexico experience a three-fold increase in cases compared to 2011 and the U.S. experienced incidence not seen since 1959.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Historically New Mexico has had higher pertussis rates than the U.S. In recent years, the U.S. rate has been increasing as has the rate in New Mexico. Rates in New Mexico have risen sharply starting in 2011.

What Is Being Done?

The New Mexico Department of Health provides quality improvement visits to Vaccines for Children providers to promote best practices for immunizations. Measuring and tracking coverage rates helps providers diagnose missed opportunities for immunizations. NMSIIS, the state on-line immunization registry, tracks immunizations received so that children can be recalled to be brought up-to-date for any needed shots. Learn more about evidence-based practices for childhood immunizations from the CDC Community Guide at

Evidence-based Practices

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4-6 years of age. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing. Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can fade with time. There are boosters for adolescents and adults that contain tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (called Tdap). Pre-teens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a dose of Tdap. Adults who didn't get Tdap as a pre-teen or teen should get one dose of Tdap. In order to protect the newborn, pregnant women should get a Tdap during each pregnancy, ideally between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation. Infants younger than 1 year age who are too young to have been fully vaccinated have the highest rates of pertussis and are also at highest risk of severe illness. It is especially important that older children, adolescents, and adults in contact with these infants be vaccinated against pertussis.

Available Services

The Vaccines For Children (VFC) Program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. The New Mexico Department of Health Immunization Program administers the VFC program for New Mexico. Eligible children can receive VFC vaccines through their private health care providers and at public health offices. For a list of public health offices visit For questions about the VFC program call the New Mexico Immunization Toll Free Hotline, (888) 231-2367. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pertussis web site: New Mexico Department of Health Immunization Program: New Mexico Immunization Coalition:
Page Content Updated On 01/23/2019, Published on 01/23/2019
The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Sat, 29 January 2022 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:38:28 MST