Pertussis or whooping cough is said to be a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe. A deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath.
Initial symptoms, similar to the common cold, usually develop about a week after exposure to the bacteria.
Severe episodes of coughing start about 10 to 12 days later. In children, the coughing often ends with a “whoop” noise. The sound is produced when the patient tries to take a breath. The whoop noise is rare in patients under 6 months of age and in adults.
Coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness. Pertussis should always be considered when vomiting occurs with coughing. In infants, choking spells are common.
Other pertussis symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Slight fever (102 °F or lower)
Initial symptoms are those of a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, listlessness, loss of appetite, some tearing in the eyes, and sometimes a mild fever. As the disease progresses the person develops a severe cough at night, which later appears during the day as well. Within a week to ten days after the first symptoms the cough may become paroxysmal. The child may cough a dozen times with each breath, each coughing bout ending with a ‘whooping’ intake of breath. Young infants and adults often do not display the classic ‘whoop’ when coughing.
Standard medical viewpoint
Since introduction of whooping cough vaccine deaths have reduced dramatically, and the disease has come under control.
The other side
Australia is currently experiencing extremely high levels of reported whooping cough. This situation has continued for a decade and has, at times, seen the reported rate of whooping cough reach levels similar to those recorded prior to mass vaccination in 1953, and has culminated in nearly 40,000 cases reported in 2011. Ironically, this increased level of reported illness has occurred during the same period that vaccination for the disease has increased substantially. In the past five years in Australia, national reporting rates were:
Year Rate (per 100,000)
(source: National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, Australian Government, Dept of Health https://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/cda-index.cfm )
By contrast, the last national rates collected before mass vaccination commenced were as follows:
Year Rate (per 100,000)
(source: Notifiable diseases surveillance, 1917 to 1991, Australian Government, Dept of Health https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-pubs-annlrpt-oz_dis19_91.htm-copy3 )
If you’re quick with a calculator you’ll discover that the average rate in the past five years was actually slightly higher than that in the last five years recorded before mass vaccination started. It must be borne in mind, however, that notification rates are notoriously poor indicators of actual disease rates. Changes in habits, changes in disease definitions, and prompting from from health officials all contribute to varying patterns of reporting, and therefore render the rates incomparable over time. Mortality (deaths) is a much more stable indicator of actual disease trends.
A new strain?
Since the late 1980s, researchers around the world have reported on the emergence of a new strain of pertussis bacteria which is different from the type contained in the vaccine. Not only does this mis-match in bacteria mean that the vaccine can’t protect against the most commonly-found type of bacteria in the community (84% of all reported pertussis cases in Australia are reportedly associated with the newer strain), but it is a more virulent bacteria as well, causing more serious symptoms and leading to the first deaths in children in over 10 years.
To add insult to injury, not only is the whooping cough vaccine not able to protect against this newer, more dangerous strain, but mass use of vaccination may have led to its emergence in much the same way as overuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence of more dangerous strains of bacteria.
The history of Whooping Cough in Australia
The graph above shows deaths from whooping cough from 1870 to 1970 in Australia. As you can see, by the time mass vaccination commenced in 1953 with the lincencing of DPT vaccine, deaths from this disease had already declined by roughly 95%. One thing is clear: vaccination played little, if any, role in the decline in deaths from the disease. It simply wasn’t around for the vast bulk of that decline. Whatever part it may have played in the tail-end 5-10% is a matter for speculation. The next graph zooms in with a yearly plot of the latter 50 years of the period plotted above, and focusing on the under-5 years age group.
About the Acellular Pertussis vaccine
More than 10 years ago, we in Australia were told that the whole-cell pertussis or whooping cough vaccine which we had used here since the 1930’s and which was ‘perfectly safe’, was being gradually replaced by another type of ‘even safer’ acellular vaccine.
The technology used to produce acellular pertussis vaccines had been used in Japan since 1981 but, since these vaccines were more expensive to produce and purchase, we here in Australia did not have access to them until almost 20 years later.
Unfortunately, whilst there is no doubt that for short-term side effects such as fever and crying, the newer acellular vaccines cause fewer reactions, when it comes to the long-term effects such as shock/collapse or convulsions, there is no difference at all. In fact, when we look at severe swelling at the injection site which sometimes requires surgery and massive loss of tissue, the acellular vaccines are far worse than the whole cell shots ever were (Pertussis for Australians, 2006). This type of reaction was the reason why the 18-month booster was removed from the vaccination schedule and we went from 5 shots of the triple antigen prior to school entry to 4 shots at 2, 4 and 6 months and then, between the ages of 4 and 5.
Pertussis vaccine is given in combination with tetanus and diphtheria. Newer pertussis vaccines such as the Infanrix Hexa (data sheet below) contain up to 6 separate vaccines in one needle. They may be administered with up to 3 other vaccines at one time, meaning that children can receive 9 vaccines in one visit.
Vaccine side effects
According to the US VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System), as of the 1st of April, 2012, there had been 130,448 reactions reported to a vaccine containing either diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis toxin. 2,464 of these involved life-threatening reactions of which 2,333 of the children or adults died. 11,498 of those who were reported as reacting to this vaccine had not recovered at the time of the report and may have had life-long-disabilities as a result.
Like Australia, VAERS uses a ‘passive’ adverse reaction reporting system which means that they admit to only collecting between 1 and 10% of all reactions. Therefore, the figures above are likely to represent only a small percentage of the actual damage caused by these vaccines.