Though "whooping cough" may seem like an antiquated affliction, an estimated 50 million cases and 300,000 deaths still occur every year. Pertussis, as the disease is formally known, is a highly contagious disease marked by an intense cough that can last up to twelve weeks, and is regarded as a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countries.

Sabin, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), is working to assess and strengthen the laboratory capacity for diagnosis of pertussis in three countries; Argentina, Panama and Mexico. Currently, pertussis surveillance in most Latin American countries is based on outdated methods and materials, and an improvement in these techniques is key to guiding prevention and control strategies. The goal is to better understand the spread and impact of pertussis, in order to protect populations from this vaccine-preventable disease.

The project also provides laboratory training, ongoing technical assistance and mentorship for the countries. By strengthening the laboratory capacity at the country and regional level to detect pertussis bacteria, countries are able to more accurately measure the burden of disease.