Could that cough be whooping cough?

Overlooking Whooping Coughwhooping cough pertussis vaccine

Have you ever met a child with a cough that lasted a long time? I’ve come across quite a number over the years. These are children who may have attended their G.P.s two or three times with this cough to no benefit.

Having studied their symptoms, these cases were met with homeopathic whooping cough remedies, leading me to conclude such coughs were most likely whooping cough (pertussis).

Why didn’t their G.P. reach the same conclusion until the third visit – or after they had referred them to hospital?

There are a couple of reasons, which are understandable. First, the symptoms aren’t always the traditional whooping cough symptoms having the associated “whoop” sound. Secondly, it’s likely G.P.s incorrectly assume pertussis is an unlikely infection due to the little patient having been vaccinated; the doctor wrongly assumes the vaccine works. The pertussis vaccine, even according to the HSE website (link) shows it to be relatively ineffective:

A full course of vaccine confers protection in 75-90% of recipients. Immunity wanes with age, and is usually inadequate 8 -10 years after primary and booster vaccination.

Similarly, the Daily Telegraph could relate research published in the British Medical Journal stating,

Whooping cough is common in schoolchildren despite the vaccination programme, and can be wrongly diagnosed as asthma or other serious chest conditions, doctors say today.

… Anthony Harnden, a GP and lecturer in primary health care at Oxford University, who led the study, said that 37.2 per cent of children who went to the doctor with a persistent cough were found to have evidence of recent whooping cough infection. More than 85 per cent of these children had been fully immunised.

… Dr Harnden said yesterday: “… Children may be investigated for asthma and sometimes sent for chest X-rays…”

“The vaccine is only effective for a few years. But if you gave another booster to older children you would push up the age when you saw whooping cough. This could include women having babies and that might not be a good idea.”

“For school-age children presenting to primary care with a cough lasting two weeks or more, a diagnosis of whooping cough should be considered even if the child has been immunised.”

A third reason a doctor may miss whooping cough is because he/she doesn’t come across it so often – at least he/she thinks so – and so doesn’t think of it as a possibility. A very human oversight!

This blind spot in medical practise raised by Dr Harnden was not a revelation as Dr Roger Morrison, M.D. had explained it thus in the introduction to his chapter on pertussis in his book Desktop Companion in 1998 (which is reproduced below).

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

The HSE outlines symptoms and gives a simple overview of the stages (link). The symptoms we are presented with in practice are usually:

• A deep spasmodic cough, possibly with choking and gagging
• Cough worsens about midnight
• Face may become red during the cough
• Belching may follow the cough
• A “whoop” sound, stridor, may be heard at the end of the cough
• Eyes run with water (lachrymation) during cough
• A tough stringy mucous may be expectorated

 Homeopathic Treatment is Effective

Despite the intensity and frequency of the cough, it responds quickly to the appropriate homeopathic remedy. For example, one girl had symptoms as above for two weeks, had been in hospital for three days. Her cough would aggravate at 11.00pm/midnight. One feature of her case was the cough would be followed by a tough ropy mucous which would hang from her mouth. This symptom is found in the remedy Coccus cacti (see here and here). The father gave her the remedy at 10pm and her 11pm/midnight aggravation did not happen. She was discharged by her paediatric consultant in the morning.

Whooping cough can present in stages and so a different remedy may be required for each stage. Such was the case with three siblings needing three different remedies (one each) corresponding to the symptoms of each stage. Each child recovered within seven days.

Homeopathic Remedies

There are many remedies corresponding to whooping cough but three in particular cover most cases. Most frequently Coccus cacti, then Drosera (see here and here) followed by Sanguinaria (here and here).

Regarding Drosera, Hahnemann gives an important warning, showing remedies are not to be treated lightly or taken for granted. He speaks honestly in a footnote to his proving of Drosera (Materia Medica Pura, page 570),

The cure takes place with certainty in from seven to nine days, under a non-medicinal diet. Care should be taken not to give a second dose (or any other medicine) immediately after the first dose, for it would inevitably not only prevent the good result, but do serious injury, as I know from experience.

While Coccus cacti is commonly needed in my own practice, Drosera was more commonly used by Hahnemann. In his introduction to the remedy he shares some not out-dated lessons!

Thus, for example, a single such dose is quite sufficient for the homoeopathic cure of epidemic whooping-cough, (from vol vi, 2nd edition, 1827) according to the indications given by symptoms 135, 137, 144, 149, but especially 145 and the second part of symptom 143.

Allopathy, as may easily be understood, could hitherto do nothing for this formidable disease, which does not pass off by itself like other acute diseases, without terminating fatally or tormenting its victim for
twenty or twenty-two weeks. In consequence it allowed many children to die of the disease where it did not hasten death by large doses of unsuitable drugs.

He who fails to perceive that in this as in other similar cases homoeopathy is the only perfect, true medical art, let him continue blindly to employ unknown drugs to the injury of sick mankind!

Drosera requires further provings of its pure effects on the healthy human subject. (P.570, 3rd edition, 1830. Available to view on Internet Archive Reader).

Dr Morrison’s Summary

Modern homeopaths have much less experience with whooping cough than our predecessors. It is interesting how many of our main pertussis remedies are neurological or epileptic remedies. This indicates that the condition is at least in part caused by neurological irritation from the infection. The high tendency of encephalitis from both the disease and the vaccine also confirm this observation.

Our allopathic colleagues are even more rusty on the diagnosis of whooping cough than homeopaths. many times in my career I have diagnosed pertussis when the paediatrician refused to believe the diagnosis, even when the parent declared a suspicion of “Whooping Cough.” This is for two reasons: first, the paediatrician has an unwarranted confidence that the vaccine is preventative, even though most patients who get pertussis have been vaccinated; second, most paediatricians have a much more serious condition in mind when they think of pertussis.

The majority of our patients with pertussis have been ambulatory and even chipper in the office. Chest examination is often unremarkable and chest x-rays often negative. Throat cultures can help in a diagnosis. The presence of an extremely high white blood cell count in a child with a nocturnal cough who seems rather well in the office is an indication of pertussis. Mainly, however it is by listening to the parent that we form a suspicion of the diagnosis. Since a homeopath’s ears are always open for the unusual, we notice immediately the mother’s description of the characteristic stridor or “whoop” at the end of the cough paroxysm, and the degree of anxiety and astonishment in the mother’s relating of the child’s symptoms.

Allopathic treatment of pertussis with erythromycin can shorten the infection by some modest amount. The treatment is more to prevent contagion. Homeopathic treatment can be surprisingly effective by comparison, but the homeopath must remember that the infection is a serious one and not have the expectation that the cough will be vanquished overnight. Often, the remedy can only reduce the severity of the cough and allow the child to sleep through the night. There may still be some cough and clearing of mucous for weeks after the event. We must not be disappointed in our remedy just because the cough persists if it has reduced the severity by fifty percent. Changing away from the effective remedy can delay healing for days or weeks. “Better is the enemy of Good,” as our Southern expression tells us.
(Reprinted with kind permission of Dr Roger Morrison)

Dr Morrison’s exposition anticipated Dr Harnden’s by eight years!

Further Information
Listen to and watch short videos of patients with whooping cough: click here 


When someone becomes infected with a disease for which there is a vaccine, the naïve jump on the unthinking bandwagon and assume the infected person/s had been vaccinated. They never ask the rational question: were they vaccinated?

Recently a lady in the US died from measles. Again the great and the good assumed she had not been vaccinated; she had. Read a critique of the measles vaccine and this particular case in the prestigious Foreign Policy journal: A Measles Death, Vaccines, and the Media’s Failure to Inform: There is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. The media ought to start having it, by Jeremy R. Hammond (July 5, 2015) Click here for link

On whooping cough consider:

Vaccination rates for whooping cough have remained consistently high and the outbreak is not due to parents shunning the jab, experts have said. (link)

And this week (July, 2015): “70 diagnosed with Whooping Cough in Reno County”, published in Eyewitness News (link). We are told, “The district tells us all of the people who’ve contracted it have been vaccinated.”

“Study: Is the whooping cough resurgence due to vaccinated people not knowing they’re infectious?” From Santa Fe Institute click here

Side-effects and Need for New Pertussis Vaccine
Now they tell us! Writing in the The Irish Times, science writer, Dick Ahlstrom tells us (August 2016) much of what we knew anyway but which the “pro-vaxxers” wouldn’t admit:

A disease doctors thought had long gone has come back to cause illness and even death. But an international team of scientists has been formed to help build new treatments against it.

The tragedy is that the disease, whooping cough, which can affect people of any age is particularly dangerous for infants and young children.

We have vaccines for the condition but they have gradually become less effective so their ability to protect is failing.

This has prompted the formation of a group of leading scientists from 22 institutions who will lead the way to more effective whooping cough vaccines.

Called Periscope the pan-European project has a budget of €28 million from the EU, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from industry.

Old vaccines
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin led by Prof Kingston Mills have been drafted into this team and will play a central role in the research that follows. “We thought until a few years ago we didn’t have to worry about whooping cough,” said Prof Mills, who is Trinity’s professor of experimental immunology.

A vaccine was developed in the 1980s and came into widespread use but it had side-effects, he said.

A better one came on stream in the 1990s and is the one we use today but it had hidden problems, Prof Mills said.

His lab showed that the current vaccine didn’t deliver long-lasting protection against whooping cough, also called pertussis.

Epidemic outbreaks
This has led to an increasing number of cases worldwide and epidemic outbreaks, Prof Mills said.
One in the UK in 2012 caused 13 deaths and in that year the US saw more cases of the disease than were seen before any vaccines came along.

A recent Australian outbreak triggered 15,000 cases and other countries are experiencing similar problems

“We really need a new vaccine,” Prof Mills said. It is hoped that this international effort will do just that.

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One Comment

  1. Steve, its worth you reading Dr English’s paper on the Pertussin pilot study he did in 1987 published in the BHJ (
    The outcome was a little unexpected and scuppered the trial. Nothing to do with homoeopathy, everything to do with the way whooping cough is diagnosed by GPs. Being a notifiable disease they are required to fill out a lengthy report for each case and in 1987 when I provided him with the remedies for the trial, GPs only got paid 12.5p per report. Basically this prejudiced the reporting of a cough as whooping cough and the reporting was artificially skewed between heavy under-reporting and some minor over-reporting. No trial on any vaccine would therefore be valid under these circumstances, and unless the status quo has changed it remains a pressing issue.

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