Whooping cough, the dread childhood disease, may not be as dangerous or nasty as we all believe.

UK’s Dr Dudley Jenkinson from Keyworth, Nottingham discovered that most cases are mild, and that a serious outcome is unlikely. Adults can catch the disease from their children and can expect a similar reaction.

He tracked the disease among 500 patients between 1977 and 1992 who had been diagnosed. Reactions varied, with just over half suffering vomiting, and 242 had the whoop during coughing fits. Five people developed pneumonia, and three had to be admitted to hospital. Females and those not immunized suffered worse, he discovered.

It is only in its rarer forms that the disease can be serious, and so grab the newspaper headlines. While this perception is inaccurate, it does help the immunization campaign, Dr Jenkinson points out.

!ABMJ, February 1995.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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