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.
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?