Is the Whooping Cough “Epidemic” in California Caused by our Community? Hardly.
Posted Jan 06 2011 12:00am
By J.B. Handley
It’s the #1 talking point from the other side right now: there is a terrible Pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California, kids are dying, and it’s the whole thing has been caused by celebrities and the “anti-vaccine” community.
How rare and wonderful to see two investigative reporters in San Diego (of course, public television) who actually took the time to understand the truth, as you can see from this great clip HERE. . What did these two investigative reporters learn?
- 40-80% of the kids who came down with Pertussis had been immunized
- The state and county data used to trump up the story that there is a Pertussis epidemic was highly unreliable
Here’s some of the transcript from the reporters, sorry about the All caps, that’s how it appeared on their website (edited by me to correct transcription errors):
“WELL, WHEN WE GOT THE SET OF DATA FROM THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IT WAS DETAILED. TOLD US HOW MANY CASES OF PEOPLE WERE IMMUNIZED, HOW MANY WEREN'T. THEY SUBMIT THE DATA TO THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC OF HEALTH. WE WANTED TO FIND OUT STATE- WIDE AND ON A COUNTY LEVEL WHAT COUNTIES WE ARE SEEING AS FAR AS THE EPIDEMIC GOES. WHEN WE GOT THE STATE DATA WE FOUND IT WAS LACKING. THE HISTORY WAS UNKNOWN FOR A MAJORITY OF THE CASES THAT HAD BEEN REPORTED IN CALIFORNIA THUS FAR.”
“WE GOT DETAILED DATA FROM COUNTIESS AND AGGREGATE INFORMATION FROM OTHERS WHO WERE NOT GOING TO RELEASE THE INFORMATION OR DIDN'T HAVE THE INFORMATION. ON A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BASIS 40-80% OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GOTTEN PERTUSSIS HAS BEEN IMMUNIZED.”
I’d like to finish with an excellent piece written by Dr. Jay Gordon:
“Very few of my patients are vaccinated according to the recommended schedules. I support parents' making this decision and have long thought that schedule is not as safe as it could be. The ultimate choice is obviously made by parents, but I share complete responsibility for the decisions they make.
In our office, we have seen quite a few children and adults with long hard coughs as we always do this time of year. Very few of these children and adults actually have pertussis. The media and the California Department of Public Health are exaggerating the threat. This is a miserable long disease, and rarely it can be dangerous to very young infants. But implying that there is a whooping epidemic is inaccurate.
The pertussis epidemic of 2010 is probably very similar to the pseudo-epidemic documented in the New York Times news story linked right HERE :
Diagnosing pertussis is very difficult and the vast majority of doctors err on the side of making the diagnosis rather than testing for the bacterium. Much of the illness around right now and being reported as whooping cough may be caused by a related bacterium called B. Parapertussis. The vaccine does not protect against this illness; it is rarely dangerous and culture growth confirmatiom for both pertussis and parapertussis bacteria is difficult. RSV and dozens of other respiratory viruses are much, much more common causes of fall and winter coughs. Again, very few coughing children and adults really have pertussis.
The accuracy of the diagnosis of the reported pertussis fatalities is very difficult to confirm. Media emphasis should focus on these deaths being almost exclusively among medically underserved children and families. The reports from public officials are not helpful in a meaningful discussion of the risks of winter illnesses and the condition of our health care system.
Breastfeed babies and toddlers, feed your family well, stay well hydrated, avoid crowds when practical and worry far less. Boring advice but more effective than the panic created by sensationalized media stories.”