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Background: Critical pertussis is characterized by severe respiratory failure, severe leukocytosis, pulmonary hypertension, septic shock and encephalopathy.
Aim: To describe the clinical course of critical pertussis and identify predictors of death at the time of presentation for medical care.
Methodology: retrospective study conducted in children’s hospital Tunisian PICU between 01 January and 31 october 2013. Patients with critical pertussis confirmed by RT-PCR and requiring mechanical ventilation were included. Predictors of death were studied.
Results : A total of 17 patients were included. Median age was 50 days. Mortality was 23%. Predictors risk of mortality were high PRISM (p=0,007), shock (p=0,002), tachycardia (p=0,005), seizures (p=0,006), altered mental status(p=0,006), elevated WBC count (p=0,003) and hemodynamic support (p=0022). However difference did not reach statistical significance in comorbidity, pneumoniae, high pulmonary hypertension or exchange transfusion. Concomitant viral or bacterial coinfection wasn’t related to poor outcome.
Conclusion: Young infants are at high risk to have critical pertussis. Despite advances in life support and the treatment of organ failure in childhood critical illness, critical pertussis remains difficult to treat.