A fifth of children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough could have whooping cough

June 24, 2014, British Medical Journal

Whooping cough has been found in a fifth of UK school age children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough, even though most have been fully vaccinated, finds a study published in BMJ today.

Before the preschool booster vaccination had been introduced in the UK in 2001, evidence of recent pertussis infection could be found in nearly 40% of school age who presented in primary care with a persistent cough.

These findings will help to inform consideration of the need for an adolescent booster vaccination in the UK.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly transmissible infection which can cause symptoms such as coughing, vomiting and whooping. However, can lead to serious complications in unvaccinated infants.

In the UK, children receive a primary course of pertussis vaccinations at two, three and four months of age, with a further preschool pertussis booster vaccination three years after completing the primary course.

Evidence suggests that pertussis infection is rising in adolescents and adults, but an adolescent booster vaccination has so far not been introduced in the UK.

To help inform these discussions, a team of researchers led by Kay Wang at the University of Oxford set out to find whether pertussis is still an important cause of persistent cough among school age children even after the introduction of the preschool booster.

Between November 2010 and December 2012, they recruited 279 children aged five to 15 years who visited their family doctor with a persistent cough of two to eight weeks' duration. The doctors were in 22 general practices in the Thames Valley.

Evidence of recent pertussis infection was confirmed by laboratory testing of oral fluid and cough frequency was monitored over 24 hours using a wearable automated device in six children with confirmed infection.

A total of 56 (20%) children had evidence of recent pertussis infection, including 39 (18%) of 215 children who had been fully vaccinated.

The risk of pertussis was more than three times higher in children given the preschool pertussis booster vaccination more than seven years before visiting their doctor with persistent cough compared with those given the booster more recently.

The risk of pertussis was similar between children who received the five or three component preschool booster vaccine. Four of six children in whom cough frequency was measured coughed more than 400 times in 24 hours.

"Pertussis can still be found in a fifth of children who present in primary care with persistent cough and can cause clinically significant cough in fully vaccinated children," say the authors. "These findings will help to inform consideration of the need for an adolescent pertussis booster vaccination in the UK," they conclude.

Explore further: Disease outbreak may not spur parents to have children vaccinated

Related Stories

Disease outbreak may not spur parents to have children vaccinated

May 5, 2014
Conventional wisdom holds that when the risk of catching a disease is high, people are more likely to get vaccinated to protect themselves.

Whooping cough boosters lack punch

April 8, 2014
Whooping cough vaccine protects infants and young children but booster doses wear off quickly, according to University of Queensland researchers.

Undervaccination appears associated with increased risk of whooping cough

September 9, 2013
Undervaccination with the diptheria, tetanus toxoids and acelluar pertussis (DTaP) vaccine appears to be associated with an increased risk of pertussis (whooping cough) in children 3 to 36 months of age, according to a study ...

Whooping cough can be deadly for infants, but 61 percent of adults don't know their vaccine status

June 17, 2013
Cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are on the rise in the U.S., recently reaching their highest level in 50 years. The disease can be serious or even fatal to newborns who have not yet received vaccinations.

Whooping cough bacterium evolves in Australia

April 15, 2014
The bacterium that causes whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, has changed in Australia - most likely in response to the vaccine used to prevent the disease - with a possible reduced effectiveness of the vaccine as a result, ...

Recommended for you

Onions could hold key to fighting antibiotic resistance

January 22, 2018
A type of onion could help the fight against antibiotic resistance in cases of tuberculosis, a UCL and Birkbeck-led study suggests.

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.