Abstract An epidemic of whooping cough swept Great Britain beginning in the last quarter of 1977 and lasting until 1979.1 There were 102,500 cases and 36 deaths reported in a population approximately one quarter the size of that of the United States, where approximately 3,000 cases and 12 deaths were reported during the same period.2 Whooping cough, it will be recalled, is an extremely contagious respiratory disease occurring mainly in infants and young children. The morbidity is substantial. During the 1977 through 1979 epidemic in England and Wales, 5,000 children were admitted to hospitals; 50 required admission to intensive care units, and 83 had convulsions.3 The epidemic followed a decline in the acceptance rate of pertussis immunization from over 80% in 1974 to 31% in 19784 as the result of a public media debate on the efficacy and, especially, the safety of pertussis vaccine. The question of References 1. Miller DL, Alderslade R, Ross EM: Whooping cough and whooping cough vaccine: The risks and benefits debate . Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:1-24. 2. Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis: Guidelines for vaccine prophylaxis and other preventive measures . Morbid Mortal Weekly Rep 1981;30:392-407. 3. Whooping Cough: Reports From the Committee on Safety of Medicines and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. London, Department of Health and Social Security, 1981. 4. Miller DL, Ross EM, Alderslade R, et al: Pertussis immunisation and serious acute neurological illness in children . Br Med J 1981;2:75-78.Crossref 5. Kulenkampff M, Schwartzman JS, Wilson J: Neurological complications of pertussis inoculation . Arch Dis Child 1974;49:46-49.Crossref 6. Stewart GT: Toxicity of pertussis vaccine: Frequency and probability of reactions . J Epidemiol Community Health 1979;33:150-156.Crossref 7. Cody CL, Baraff LJ, Cherry JD, et al: Nature and rates of adverse reactions associated with DTP and DT immunizations in infants and children . Pediatrics 1981;68:650-660. 8. Torch WC: Diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) immunization: A potential cause of the sudden infant death syndrome, (SIDS), abstracted . Neurology 1982;32:169-170.Crossref 9. Bernier RH, Frank JA, Dondero TJ, et al: Diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-pertussis vaccination and sudden infant deaths in Tennessee . J Pediatr 1982;101:419-421.Crossref 10. The NICHD cooperative epidemiological study of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk factors. Read before the American Pediatric Society-Society for Pediatric Research APS-SPR meeting, Washington, DC, May 12, 1982. 11. Fenichel GM: Neurological complications of immunization . Ann Neurol 1982;12:119-128.Crossref
Archives of Neurology – American Medical Association
Published: Apr 1, 1983
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