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Whooping Cough Endemic Among U.K. Schoolchildren

Despite immunization, 40 percent of children with persistent cough tested positive for pertussis

FRIDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 40 percent of U.K. children with persistent cough show signs of infection with Bordatella pertussis, despite being vaccinated, according to a study published online July 7 in BMJ. Pertussis appears to be endemic in the United Kingdom and whooping cough should be considered in children with cough lasting two weeks or more, the report indicates.

Anthony Harnden, M.B., Ch.B., M.Sc., of the University of Oxford in Oxford, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study among 172 children aged 5 to 16 years who visited their general practitioner with a cough of 14 days duration or more. In all, 64 of the children (37.2 percent) had serological evidence of recent infection with Bordatella pertussis, even though 55 (85.9 percent) had been fully immunized.

Children who tested positive for whooping cough were more likely to whoop, vomit and produce sputum, have a cough that persisted for two months or more comprising five or more coughing episodes a day, and cause disturbed sleep for their parents.

"For school-age children presenting to primary care with a cough lasting two weeks or more, a diagnosis of whooping cough should be considered even if the child has been immunized. Making a secure diagnosis of whooping cough may prevent inappropriate investigations and treatment, " the authors conclude.

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