Potential Hazards of Modern Whooping Cough Tests; False positive results, unnecessary antibiotics, and inaccurate statistics, by Hilary Butler

Are you aware of the problems with whooping cough diagnosis? Do you know that the vaccine can potentially contaminate the environment and lead to false positive tests, as can particles of the bacteria floating in the air? In addition, tests done for surveillance of asymptomatic persons are KNOWN to give false positive results, and then lead to unnecessary antibiotics and all of the consequences thereof. Below is an excerpt from the article.

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“…PCR testing is easily contaminated.

Here is an example of how, over several months during 2006 in Dartmouth University USA false positive whooping cough PCR tests, completely misled infectious disease experts.

For two weeks starting in mid-April last year, she coughed, seemingly nonstop, followed by another week when she coughed sporadically, annoying, she said, everyone who worked with her.

Before long, Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth, had a chilling thought: Could she be seeing the start of a whooping cough epidemic? By late April, other health care workers at the hospital were coughing, and severe, intractable coughing is a whooping cough hallmark. And if it was whooping cough, the epidemic had to be contained immediately because the disease could be deadly to babies in the hospital and could lead to pneumonia in the frail and vulnerable adult patients there.

It was the start of a bizarre episode at the medical center: the story of the epidemic that wasn’t.

For months, nearly everyone involved thought the medical center had had a huge whooping cough outbreak, with extensive ramifications. Nearly 1,000 health care workers at the hospital in Lebanon, N.H., were given a preliminary test and furloughed from work until their results were in; 142 people, including Dr. Herndon, were told they appeared to have the disease; and thousands were given antibiotics and a vaccine for protection. Hospital beds were taken out of commission, including some in intensive care.

Then, about eight months later, health care workers were dumbfounded to receive an e-mail message from the hospital administration informing them that the whole thing was a false alarm.

Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory. Instead, it appears the health care workers probably were afflicted with ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.

…At Dartmouth the decision was to use a test, P.C.R., for polymerase chain reaction…

…Many of the new molecular tests are quick but technically demanding, and each laboratory may do them in its own way. These tests, called ”home brews,” are not commercially available, and there are no good estimates of their error rates. But their very sensitivity makes false positives likely, and when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.

….Yet, epidemiologists say, one of the most troubling aspects of the pseudo-epidemic is that all the decisions seemed so sensible at the time.

No doubt the New Zealand scientists also think their decision to change the diagnostic criteria is very sensible. But… is it? If so, for whom and why?

As New York Times showed… when the university decided to CHECK the PCR results with the longer laborious culture method tests, they found that…. oops… what every single clinician THOUGHT was whooping cough based on the symptoms and a positive PCR test…. was actually … something else.

Which also calls into question the ability of infectious disease “experts” to diagnose whooping cough on clinical symptoms, in the first place. Dartmouth University did NOT however use a pertussis IgA antibody test to confirm the PCR test results. .

The Dartmouth experience was only one of several examples which showed the CDC, that the PCR test for whooping cough could incorrectly inflate case numbers with false positives…

The PCR test is hugely susceptible to contamination. Again, CDC says:

“Avoiding Contamination of Clinical Specimens with Pertussis DNA

Some pertussis vaccines[1] have been found to contain PCR-detectable B. pertussis DNA. Environmental sampling has identified B. pertussis DNA from these vaccines in clinic environments. While the presence of this DNA in the vaccines does not impact the safety or immunogenicity of these vaccines, accidental transfer of the DNA from environmental surfaces to a clinical specimen can result in specimen contamination and falsely-positive results.”

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[1]http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/clinical/diagnostic-testing/diagnosis-pcr-bestpractices.html