• Test Code:
  • Department:
  • Test Synonyms:
    Pertussis PCRWhooping Cough
  • CPT Code(s):

Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of pertussis or “whooping cough,” a bacterial illness which occurs worldwide with a significant prevalence among unvaccinated children and individuals in whom vaccination-induced immunity has waned. Recent resurgence of the disease has occurred within highly vaccinated populations, and transmission from adult reservoirs to unvaccinated children is of increasing concern. In addition to its diagnostic significance, it is important to distinguish pertussis from the milder, pertussis-like syndrome caused by B. parapertussis.


The pertussis real-time PCR assay utilizes primer sets specifically targeting the insertion sequences of B. pertussis (IS481) and B. parapertussis (IS1001).  With high genomic copy numbers, insertion sequence-based detection allows increased sensitivity compared to single-copy gene targets. These real-time PCR reagents allow for sensitive detection of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis, and also for reliable discrimination between the two bacteria.

Specimen Requirements:

  • Respiratory samples: Nasal aspirate or swab of the posterior nasopharynx; BAL; sputum.
    • The swabs can be transported at room temperature in viral transport media and should be refrigerated within 4 hours of collection.   Calcium alginate or wooden swabs are not acceptable.
    • If sample cannot be delivered to the lab within 24 hours, it should be kept refrigerated and shipped cold overnight.

A REQUISITION FORM MUST ACCOMPANY ALL SAMPLES.  Please include detailed clinical information.

Test Performed (Days):

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Turn Around Time:

1 - 3 days

Shipment Sensitivity Requirements:

Ship via overnight express, using the FedEx priority overnight label provided.  Use cold pack to keep specimens cool, but not frozen.  Please contact Client Services at (855) 535-1522 for shipping materials and instructions.


Register KB and Sanden GN.  Prevalence and Sequence Variants of IS481 in Bordetella bronchiseptica: Implications for IS481-Based Detection of Bordetella pertussis. J Clin Microbiol. 2006;44:4577-4583.

Additional Info:

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