-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Very few babies and children
treated for coughs or respiratory illnesses have pertussis, a
highly contagious childhood disease also known as whooping cough,
Swiss researchers have found.
The findings should reassure doctors they aren't overlooking or
misdiagnosing the illness, which is known for a
distinctive-sounding and uncontrollable cough.
In conducting the study, Drs. Ulrich Heininger and Marie-Anne
Burckhardt, of University Children's Hospital in Basel, analyzed
nose and throat swabs from 1,059 infants, children and teens
treated for a cough over the course of one year.
The investigators tested the swabs for respiratory viruses as
well as Bordetella bacteria, including
Bordetella pertussis and
Bordetella parapertussis -- both of which can cause
The study, published in the August issue of the
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, revealed that rates of Bordetella infection were low: just 2 percent of the patients were positive for B. pertussis and 0.5 percent were positive for
B. parapertussis. The rates were low even among children whose doctor actually suspected pertussis and ordered a test for Bordetella.
In addition, the rates of Bordetella infection were low among
children with confirmed respiratory viral infections, the study
authors noted in a journal news release. Of 268 patients who tested
positive for respiratory syncytial virus (a common respiratory
infection in infants) only one child was also infected with
The study also found no link between respiratory viruses in
children and their risk for Bordetella infection. The researchers
cautioned, however, children with respiratory viruses could still
be infected with Bordetella, although concurring infections are
probably just coincidental.
The authors also pointed out that the study is limited by the
fact that it was carried out in just one year when there were no
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
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