What You Need to Know About Whooping Cough {Part 1} |

What You Need to Know About Whooping Cough {Part 1}

beth October 1, 2012

More than any other year in practice, 2012 has brought me more nervous, frightened and frustrated parents and patients seeking advice about whooping cough and the related vaccine.  News reports of  whooping cough outbreaks across the country have created an environment of fear and an onslaught of misinformation in schools, hospitals and our very own homes.  I am going to do my best to calm those fears.

What Is Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection caused by B. pertussis or B. parapertussis.   The bacteria attaches to the lining of the respiratory tract producing a toxin that creates excess mucus and inflammation and paralyzes the tiny hairs known as cilia.  If the cilia can”t function,  you are unable to sweep the mucus out of the lung.  The initial symptoms are often identical to the common cold and include a runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and a mild cough.  The characteristic “whooping cough” may appear a week or two later.  A succession of repeated coughs, which may be accompanied by the child turning blue and vomiting, is the body”s attempt to expel the mucus.  At the end of a prolonged coughing bout, a quick inhalation can create a high-pitched whoop.  These coughing episodes tend to occur more frequently at night.  It can take many weeks for this cough to resolve and is sometimes referred to as the 100 day cough.

Is Whooping Cough Dangerous?

For a small number, whooping cough can cause serious complications & even death particularly in infants who have a relatively small wind pipe and haven”t learn to properly engage their abdominal muscles during coughing.  The most common cause of whooping cough related death is from a bacterial co-infection causing pneumonia.  Whooping cough, however, is not nearly as deadly as the CDC or media would like us to believe.  When looking at the CDC”s own data from 1992-2004, on average, the death rate was .11%.   Not 11% but .11%.  In reality, these numbers are inflated because there are many who were asymptomatic or had such mild symptoms that they were never diagnosed.  In addition, this death rate is primarily a reflection of children who had the standard antibiotic treatment or no treatment at all because the physicians and parents were unaware that there are far more effective means of treating whooping cough naturally.  Note: The whooping cough symptom is not common and individuals can be exposed to the whooping cough bacteria and develop natural immunity with no symptoms whatsoever.  The majority who contract the infection have relatively mild symptoms & recover fully.  

Image by Daniel Paquet

What About The Vaccine?

DTaP is the whooping cough vaccine (aP) in combination with Diptheria (D) and Tetanus (T) which is recommended by the CDC for infants at 2, 4  and 6 months and then again at 12-18 months and 4-6 years old.   A booster (Tdap) is recommended at 11-12 years old and for all pregnant women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester.   There is talk of adding more boosters to the pediatric schedule.  Among other ingredients, the vaccine contains formaldehyde, aluminum and, in some such as Tripedia, mercury.  According to Tripedia”s package insert (page 11), reported adverse events following vaccination included sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and autism.

When health officials looked at the statistics from 2002-2007 in Kings County, Washington they found that 77% of the infants who contracted whooping cough were fully up-to-date on their vaccinations.  When they looked at the statistics in Marin County, casino California for whooping cough outbreak in 2010 they determined that 81% of kids under 18 years old were fully up-to-date on their vaccinations and 92% had been vaccinated at least once.  Australia, which has had over a 95% whooping cough vaccination rate since 2000, is having the largest outbreak in their history since pertussis vaccination started.  What is the proposed solution from government health authorities…booster shots!

If the vaccine is supposedly effective, how are outbreaks possible?  There are a number of explanations.   First of all, the CDC & the vaccine manufacturers admit that vaccines do not provide protection in a certain percentage of the population.  New studies published in prominent medical journals have called into question the 85% efficacy quoted in the vaccine’s package inserts.  For example, one study by scientists at Kaiser Permanente found vaccine effectiveness in Marin County in 2010 to be between 24-79% for children 2 to 18.   But let”s assume, for arguments sake, that their 85% statistic is accurate.  This means that the vaccine is ineffective in 15% of the population.  15% is far greater than the reported 2% of children who are unvaccinated.   Public health officials claim that the unvaccinated are the greatest threat, however, according to their own statistics and logic,  those who experienced a vaccine failure are a far greater threat – yet somehow these individuals are allowed to attend school & be around infants because they are considered immunized.

Another study by researchers at Kaiser published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that any protection afforded by the vaccine wears off quickly, often within 3 years.  So much for their attempts at vaccine acquired herd immunity.

Secondly, when an individual is exposed to the infection naturally, they tend to develop immunity to a variety of similar strains of the germ.   This is not the case with vaccine acquired immunity.  The vaccine only includes the B. pertussis & not all slots casino the B. parapertussis which is an ever increasing cause of whooping cough.  This phenomena, where one strain of an organism takes the place of another, is known as the “replacement effect.”  In fact, a study out of Penn State showed that the B. pertussis vaccine can cause a 40 fold increase in the colonization of B. parapertussis indicating that the vaccine may be suppressing the immune system & allowing other strains to flourish.  Could we see the addition of a B. parapertussis to the recommended schedule?  It has also been reported that the widespread use of the vaccine is causing the B. pertussis bacteria to mutate which may render the vaccine completely ineffective against this mutated B. pertussis strain.

If you listen to the CDC, media & ordinary pediatricians they claim that getting vaccinated is the only way to protect the most vulnerable in our population.  My biggest concern is that mass vaccinations are actually increasing the risk of whooping cough in the most vulnerable segment of the population, our infants.  Prior to the vaccine, young girls would come in contact with the whooping cough bacteria through their mucus membranes which would stimulate cell-mediated immunity.  This immunity lasts many decades and when those girls got older and had children, their naturally acquired cell-mediated antibodies would be passed to their infants through their breast milk, protecting the infant from whooping cough if they were exposed while still nursing.

However, the vaccine stimulates humoral immunity which only produces antibodies in the blood which can not pass through breast milk.  Those cell-mediated antibodies (IgA) are never produced and therefore can not be passed through the breast milk to protect their infants from the complications of whooping cough.  These are the unintended consequences that occur when man tries to trump nature”s wisdom.

The solution of government officials is to now try to compensate by giving booster shots to close family members.   This approach, known as “cocooning”, is misguided at best and dangerous at worst.   We already discussed how B. parapertussis, a major cause of whooping cough, isn”t covered by the vaccine & may even by enhanced.  However,  it should also be noted that just because you have been vaccinated and are not showing any outward symptoms of whooping cough, you can still be a carrier of B. pertussis and pass that bacteria to these unprotected infants.  So are parents going to require bacterial cultures on every person who comes into contact with their baby even if they have been recently vaccinated?  In my practice I have had grandparents and other family members tell me heartbreaking stories of being forbidden to see a new baby if they didn”t get a booster shot.

What If?

So much of the fear behind whooping cough and vaccines in general comes from the fear of “what if”. What if your child gets whooping cough – what do you do? Join us tomorrow to find out.

What experiences have you had surrounding whooping cough or the vaccine?


This is the writings of:



  1. My daughter’s school just sent home a paper about pertussis and all it talks about is making sure everyone is vaccinated. I didn’t read the whole paper, my eyes were rolling too much, so I tossed it in our paper recycle bin. I’m pretty sure our kids were vaccinated for it years ago, not that I am happy about that, but I can’t change the past.


  2. Very Informative! It makes perfect sense. I have 2 daughters and no immunizations. All of these vaccines SCARE me, way more then the illnesses they MAY get.


  3. My 17mo, is getting over WC right now. Were on week 5 and still having episodes. Its like we take 2 steps forward then 2 steps back. He was hospitalized for 4 days in the begining because of low O2 stats when he had a episode. I just pray he starts to get better soon. Its been a long journey thus far. We do not vaccinate our children.


  4. From a mom still dealing with Pertussis in 2 babies not vaccinated.
    Well, I spent weeks this summer with my toddler 20 months and infant 4 months in dealing with the paroxysmal stage. I believe all my children (we have 9) had it over the spring and brought it home, but for them is was just…cold/cough…cough….cough….really? we still have coughing going on? I didn’t know what I was dealing with until my toddler started coughing/gagging….then it got bad as in full paroxysms with whooping and post-tussive vomiting, and no-doubt-about-this it’s Pertussis…for weeks. My children are not vaccinated and I knew we could deal with pertussis. It was hard at times…mostly at night. I did try the vitamin C treatment, but didn’t start soon enough, with enough of the right kind. I still believe totally that it helped, but wish I’d started it sooner. Anyway, we got through the paroxysmal stage which is the scariest to watch and we are now in the convalescent stage. For those who don’t know, this stage is actually where most complications occur…it astounds me when they now seem so normal. But if you deal with pertussis, don’t let down your guard after the coughing subsides, b/c their lungs are still susceptible. I’m kicking myself for not keeping up with the vitamin c, b/c we’ve had something going through our house and my toddler was having some issues after being cough free for about a month! I did have her checked out and was prescribed a steroid for her for 3 days and antibiotics b/c she was retracting a little and the practitioner could hear stuff in her lungs and she was concerned that it was trying to turn into pneumonia (the most likely complication). ( And for the record she is doing better. I’m still also doing vit c and won’t let down again till probably spring!) We actually quarantined during the “famous” coughing stage and had avoided the antibiotics altogether until now. Anyway, I prefer the natural route, so I am so kicking myself for letting her get to the point of needing drug help. That said, I’m thankful for it and praying for no lasting side effects. I’ll be getting probiotics ASAP. I say all that b/c you need to keep respecting pertussis and watching the health of your babies for certain for several months post paroxysmal stage! I knew it and blew it! The baby has done pretty well. I think she’s doing better during this convalescent stage b/c she’s nursing and being more protected from secondary infections. I should be pumping and sneaking breastmilk to the toddler! During the nights when I was up every hour, picking up my babies to lean them forward and holding them to give them best momentum to cough effectively I did soooo much reading about pertussis. I came to have a high respect for the disease. I experienced firsthand why many parents want to vaccinate. It’s hard to watch your child cough like that…and it’s night after night and not a lot of sleep! That said it didn’t change my mind about vaccinations. I’m holding to the hope that this temporary hard work is going to make my children healthier in the future. I say that having experienced it and still dealing with convalescing 2 children in the highest risk group. The Vitamin C Treatment for Whooping Cough by Suzanne Humphries helped a lot and she has many practical suggestions about what to do that empowered me while also giving me encouragement. I read that more than a couple of times during those weeks. As already said, I came to really respect this disease. There’s soo much more I could say about the progression between the 2 babies and dealing with it, but then this would be even longer! Just throwing some of my experience(s) into the discussion. I’m believing that all this effort will be worth a healthier body and future for my children. Hopefully this made sense and will encourage someone. Look forward to reading Part 2 🙂


  5. We are such grandparents not allowed to hold our new grandson…we can be with him and near him, which really doesn’t make sense….One of the issues here is choice…choice lately only seems to apply to abortion..so, I believe that, while I don’t agree with the decision my step daughter has made, I will honor her choice. Our Grandson is the one who will be hurt the most..one by the vaccine and two by the inability of being able to bond to his grandparents..

    This was a great article!


  6. My six year old, unvaccinated daughter got Whooping cough from her vaccinated friends at Sunday school. No blame…just the observation that most parents don’t know that their child is infected before it’s too late to quarrantine them. Pertusis manifested in a 24 hour low fever, around 100, then a week of a mild, infrequent cough. It doesn’t seem like much, there is no more fever and no loss of appetite or energy so kids are nearly always still sent to class. But week two starts a more significant cough. By week three the coughing spasms begin with vomiting and “whooping” gasps for air. For my daughter, this full blown paroxysmal stage lasted three weeks. She lost a lot of weight from the vomiting up the stringy, abundant phlegm. It wasn’t that she didn’t have an appetite. She was very hungry. It just didn’t stay down when a coughing spasm began. I gave her lots of fresh fruit, yohgurt and honey smoothies, garlic drops in warm water, and vitamin C tablets. I also got her out walking in fresh air every day, as this seemed to lessen her spasms. We walked on trails through every park in town! She learned a technique of holding her breath for a moment after the first big cough, to prevent a succession of coughs and it worked very well, especially at night when a sudden cough would wake her. I slept beside her on the living room floor for two months, as my husband (who had just finished chemotherapy) needed to stay at the opposite end of the house. Nevertheless, he came down with Pertusis too, but it was far less violent in his case. Nellie is now in her second month of convalescence and playing soccer. She occasionally has to stop, in the middle of a run, and do a cough…but she holds her breath a moment and the stops the cough from continuing. The whooping cough is gone, but she retains a sort of reflex in her diaphram as she continues to recover. I still would not have had her vaccinated, as I have seen for myself that the vaccine does not prevent you from getting the disease. The vast majority of those infected in my city in Washington State were already fully vaccinated.


  7. I am opposed to all childhood vaccinations and my youngest child (who received none) has been healthier than my other children (who got their first but not the boosters) and every single other child I know. My youngest is 16 and has had MAYBE three colds and two flu outbreaks IN HIS LIFE.

    So recently when he accidentally cut his hand while working with steel and knives, the ER doc said a Tetanus shot was in order and I agreed considering the situation. It wasn’t until AFTER the fact they informed me that the Whooping Cough vaccine WAS INCLUDED in the Tetanus shot… I was LIVID!! I ABSOLUTELY did not ask for this and was mortified that my son was injected with this poison without his or my knowledge.

    To counter the effects we are dosing him with straight Vit C powder and cayenne capsules and Milk Thistle.

    Just another example of how the allopathic community CANNOT be trusted .. sad but true.


  8. Thank you so much for posting this! We just had to go down and visit family in Washington state for a month. Our daughter is unvaccinated and we were worried, but the science behind the vaccines is just far too inadequate. I look forward to part 2!


  9. Why does Dr. Humphries insist that Ester C not be utilized?


  10. We are dealing with this too….I don’t understand from Suzanne Humphries dosage after the first megadose of vitamin C? Anyone have any insight?


  11. Great article! My unvaccinated daughter caught whooping cough when she was about 12, after all the vaccinated kids at school had whooping cough. The doctor said it wasn’t whooping cough because – ‘we don’t get that anymore’. Mum and mum in law both said it was definitely whooping cough, they recognised the sound. My daughter was mildly unwell for a week, and coughed for about a month. Her only treatment was good food, and rest. Hopefully now she will be immune and pass that immunity on to her children.


  12. I wrote an article outlining what I did to treat my 5 children naturally last year. See it here http://www.birthologie.com/parenting/adventures-in-pertussis-whooping-cough-x-5/


  13. […] – Whooping Cough: Why Is Everyone So Scared – Part 1 (Make sure you read part 2 as […]


  14. […] Whooping Cough:Why is Everyone So Scared : Modern Alternative Health […]


  15. Has anyone tried Grapefruit seed extract? I have to say it does wonders in our house. It is a natural anti-bacterial/anti-VIRAL. It comes in pill form and liquid. You can use it for pretty much anythign either orally or topically. OI found out about it once when my husband had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Finished it off in less then a week. Liquid you dilute for skin washes, diaper rash, gargles or just put it in the old coffee (or bottle I suppose:)) and it helps the body kick out the old bacteria and virus nasties. The best thing to do is just google it for it’s uses then hit the local Vitamin Shoppe. It’s cheap! My sister in law got clawed and bit by her cat once and the marked were really getting infected looking. (she had not gone to a doctor) the redness was spreading. I gave her some pills to take 3 times a day and we washed her arm with some of the liquid diluted in water. 3 days later she called to say they were almost healed up.


  16. Hi my loved one! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and include approximately all significant infos. I would like to peer more posts like this .


  17. Everyone is “so scared” because children used to die of whooping cough. Ask my grandmother about whooping cough.


  18. They can still die from whooping cough if parents & doctors don’t know how to implement optimal care. Ignorance breeds fear.


  19. Rubbing a Lavender essential oil and coconut oil mix on chest/throat works wonderfully. It was the only think that stopped it, and returned my voice!


  20. This is just a comment for all parents who choose not to vaccinate.
    Kudos to you!
    But here is a dose of reality
    a lot of parents don’t vaccinate and in turn allow their children to eat a standard American diet (SAD diet) and leave their children to ward off illnesses on their compromised immune systems.
    Please realize if you choose not to vaccinate you must be diligent about your child’s immune system.
    Don’t think you can – not vaccinate your child and turn around and feed your child macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and hamburgers and processed foods and bottled juices and candies and bread and pasta and then they’ll be able to ward off anything that’s going around in their school NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
    I hate to disappoint but this information is important. NOt choosing to vaccinate is a lifelong job, it’s just part of it.
    Your child’s diet is the 2nd half of their immune system and that’s the everyday job.
    Do incorporate garlic, green onions, omega 3 eggs, healthy organic organ meats like liver and heart in your child’s diet, cod liver oil, stews, fish soup, chicken soup all organic etc. vitamin C fruits like pineapple or fresh fruit period in their diet. This is what I ate growing up and I had 100% perfect attendance at school no cold no cough, no flu. I did get vaccinated for MMR after I came to USA among others but prior to that I wasn’t. My parents were diligent about my diet, so much so that every time we had test done, doctors would ask my mom what she fed us, every time! so yes I think it’s wonderful to not vaccinate but what you’re feeding your child everyday is equally important. I wish good health to all of you and your children.


  21. Why is everyone so scared? This is what I went through at the beginning of the year:
    Scared (of ever going through this again) is an understatement. It can cause serious damage, There’s a reason that we created a vaccination for it.


  22. […] talked about all the fear behind whooping cough with facts. You can find that here: Whooping Cough: Why Is Everyone So Scared? Part 1. There are so many conflicting views being thrown at parents when it comes to whooping cough. To a […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

Meet My Family
Love our content? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get our FREE Nourished Living Cookbook!