Emergence of whooping cough: Notes from three early epidemics in Persia

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Whooping cough is a relatively new infectious disease afflicting human beings, compared with other infectious diseases, and is undergoing a resurgence despite decades of vaccination. The oldest known epidemic is thought to be the Paris outbreak of 1578. In this Historical Review, we describe three epidemics of whooping cough in Persia, which although arising roughly one century before the Paris outbreak, have not been examined in detail. A great amount of epidemiological detail was reported that not only distinguishes the various stages and complications of whooping cough, but also reveals unique immunological aspects of this disease. The first of these epidemics is the oldest recorded whooping cough epidemic. On the basis of epidemiological features, we propose that this whooping cough epidemic was the first to have taken place in Persia and might have been part of the first pandemic. This theory pushes back the date of first documented emergence of whooping cough by almost a century, which matches molecular data about its spread. Here, we discuss features of these early epidemics in relation to their initial emergence, potential origins, and spread to Europe.




Aslanabadi, A., Ghabili, K., Shad, K., Khalili, M., & Sajadi, M. M. (2015, December 1). Emergence of whooping cough: Notes from three early epidemics in Persia. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Lancet Publishing Group. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00292-3

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