Sir.—I enjoyed the vignette of Baillou's description of whooping cough.1 It was in the spring of 1578 that the epidemic described spread over Paris. Baillou said it was likened by the medical men to the coqueluche of the older writers, a term for severe coughing mentioned as early as 1414, and which from 1724 served as a designation for whooping cough as we recognize it today. Sydenham named it pertussis in 1670.2
In view of the present public befuddlement regarding whooping cough vaccine, it might not be amiss to publicize even further the history of this bane of childhood before the days of vaccine prevention. Epidemics devastating to children raged throughout Europe and in America from the 16th century until the introduction of the effective preventive vaccine. The disease was continuously endemic also between epidemics, a universal plague of children. Dr Robert J. Lee, writing on "hooping
RADBILL SX. Whooping Cough. Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(6):506–507. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140200016015
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