Tests lead to fake whooping cough epidemic

Jan. 22, 2007 at 4:07 PM
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LEBANON, N.H., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A rumored whooping cough outbreak recently occurred in New Hampshire, spreading throughout an area hospital by the means of a series of incorrect tests.

The New York Times said last April's whooping cough epidemic at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., was proven false after a series of positive tests were found invalid.

While 142 people tested positive for the illness, a secondary set of tests revealed they were not infected with the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis.

Instead those individuals were found to be suffering from respiratory diseases, including the common cold.

The inaccuracy of the quick tests was similar to a rumored outbreak in Boston last fall and brought attention to what John Hopkins Hospital epidemiologist Dr. Trish M. Perl.

"It's a problem; we know it's a problem," Perl told the Times. "My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common."

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