whooping cough

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The Whooping Cough Misnomer, And Other Facts About Pertussis

Brady Alcaide died of pertussis at the age of two-months. His parents are now trying to raise awareness about the disease. (Courtesy: Kathy Riffenburg)

The most important thing I learned from my reporting on two-month old Brady Alcaide, who died of pertussis, or whooping cough in January is this: it shouldn’t be called “whooping cough.”

I came to this conclusion yesterday, after recording a segment on pertussis for Radio Boston. Appearing on the program with me was Dr. Ben Kruskal, a pediatrician and director of infection control and travel medicine at Harvard Vanguard and director of infectious diseases at Atrius Health. When asked what clinicians should do when confronted with infants like Brady, who had contracted pertussis, a bacterial disease, but didn’t exhibit the “classic” violent cough or whooping sound associated with it, Dr. Kruskal said this:

“Actually it turns out that most people who have whooping cough don’t show the classic signs of whooping cough. Continue reading