Temporal Trends in the Population Structure ofBordetella pertussisduring 1949-1996 in a Highly Vaccinated Population

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The population structure of Bordetella pertussis in The Netherlands in 5 successive periods, encompassing 1949-1996, was analyzed by DNA typing (“fingerprinting”). In 10 years following the introduction of wide-scale vaccination in 1953, a decrease in genotypic diversity (GD) was observed, suggesting clonal expansion of strains that were adapted to vaccine-induced immunity. In subsequent periods, GD increased to prevaccination levels, probably reflecting a gradual adaptation of the B. pertussis population involving many lineages. In the 1990s, GD decreased again. This decrease coincided with an antigenic shift in the surface protein pertactin. No evidence was found for changes in DNA types or GD in 1996, when a large pertussis epidemic occurred. Thus, gradual changes in the bacterial population previous to 1996 were probably the cause of the 1996 epidemic. The results herein suggest that vaccination has selected for strains that are adapted to a highly vaccinated population. Similar changes may have occurred in other countries, explaining the reemergence of pertussis in vaccinated populations.

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