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Bordetella Pertussis Antibody (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

Whooping cough antibody test

What is this test?

This test checks for Bordetella pertussis antibodies in your blood.  B. pertussis are the bacteria that cause pertussis, or whooping cough.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious childhood infection that can also affect adults. It can be quite serious and sometimes deadly, especially in children younger than 12 months. Its hallmark symptom is a cough that may last 1 to 6 weeks, or possibly 10 months or longer.

Although most people in the U.S. have been vaccinated against whooping cough, the number of cases of the disease has increased over the last few decades, especially among adults.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have whooping cough.

You may need this test done twice several weeks apart to find out whether you have an active infection.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order a culture test or other tests to confirm the results of the antibody test. These tests include checking for IgM or IgA antibodies.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare provider.

If you've never been vaccinated against pertussis, a normal value of B. pertussis antibodies is zero. If you have been vaccinated, it's likely that you will have IgG antibodies to B. pertussis, even if you don't currently have an active pertussis infection.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Taking antibiotics like erythromycin can give a false-negative result.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.


Medical Reviewers:

  • Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
  • Sather, Rita, RN