Some over-simplify the Pertussis | Letter to the Editor

The state Department of Health says that in 1976, the U.S. hit a national low with 1,010 pertussis cases. Since then, the numbers have climbed despite ongoing vaccination. Also, the three-to-five year pertussis outbreak cycle continues despite overall consistency of vaccination. The current epidemic was predicted and expected. So, what gives?

First, there is a serious need for consistent testing of cough-illnesses. Did you have “the crud” this winter? Did you or your doctor consider testing for pertussis? The CDC says adults with pertussis average three doctor visits and seven to 10 missed workdays before considering testing.

What you don’t know can kill you or an infant. Ever heard of parapertussis? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 30 to 35 percent of pertussis cases are caused by parapertussis. And there is no vaccine for it. However, treatment with antibiotics (early on) can lessen the severity of the illness.

Did you know that pertussis can only be effectively diagnosed and treated in the first three weeks, that 50 percent of cases never “whoop,” and that vaccinated people with partial immunity and an undiagnosed, mild case of pertussis can pass a fatal case on to a newborn?

Anyone, or any article, that tells you the solution is to go get vaccinated is not giving you the full story. Getting vaccinated is not enough. Vaccinated people spread pertussis all the time.

There is so much we still need to learn about the human immune system. Over-simplified public health propaganda makes things worse as it creates over-confidence in an undereducated public. Don’t rely upon the government, The Beachcomber or your doctor to tell you what to do.

Get educated. Get tested. Ask your friends to do the same.


— March Twisdale


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