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Fifth of children with persistent cough 'may have whooping cough'

Whooping cough has been found in a fifth of UK school age children visiting their GP with persistent cough, even though most have been fully vaccinated, according to researchers from Oxford University.

The preschool pertussis booster vaccination was introduced in the UK in 2001.

Before its introduction, evidence of recent pertussis infection could be found in nearly 40% of school age children who presented in primary care with a persistent cough.

The new findings will help to inform consideration of the need for an adolescent booster vaccination in the UK, according to the researchers.

During 2010-12, they recruited 279 children aged five to 15 years who visited their GP with a persistent cough of two to eight weeks’ duration. They presented at 22 general practices in the Thames Valley.

A total of 56 (20%) children had evidence of recent pertussis infection, including 39 (18%) of 215 children who had been fully vaccinated.

“Pertussis can still be found in a fifth of school age children who present in primary care with persistent cough and can cause clinically significant cough in fully vaccinated children,” said the study authors in the British Medical Journal.

“These findings will help to inform consideration of the need for an adolescent pertussis booster vaccination in the UK,” they added.

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