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November 14, 1990

Pertussis Vaccine Encephalopathy

Author Affiliations

Clinton, Md

Clinton, Md

JAMA. 1990;264(18):2383-2384. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450180039016

7b the Editor. —  In his editorial proclaiming the "myth" of pertussis vaccine encephalopathies, Cherry1 fails to recognize the paucity of conceptually and methodologically sound research on the insidious neurotoxic effects of the "whole cell" pertussis vaccine. There is little scientific dispute that the pertussis toxin can produce acute local and systemic reactions. The more heated controversy has focused on whether these acute symptoms also involve lasting central nervous system effects, or, as Cherry's referenced studies describe, "permanent brain damage" and "serious neurologic illness."At a minimum, a conceptually sound cause-and-effect study of hypothesized pertussis vaccine encephalopathies would specify and operationally define the full range of potential sequelae, ie, mild, moderate, and severe pertussis vaccine encephalopathies. An animal experimental paradigm employed by Goh and Pennefather2 recently identified a significant neuropathologic mechanism of pertussis toxin, the functional "uncoupling" of G-type proteins in a hippocampal region, effecting disruption of long-term