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23 January 2012 08:34
Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium, and is highly infectious
A suspected outbreak of whooping cough in the US was a false alarm, according to experts.
An investigation into the events, which took place in mid 2009, was carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC found that rather than being an outbreak of the highly contagious bacterial infection, the numerous cases reported were more likely to have been a "pseudo-outbreak", experts having been misled by contaminated samples.
Despite the conclusions, it is vital for travellers planning to visit areas where the disease has been reported to arrange appropriate
medical travel insurance.
However, the investigation also concluded that an outbreak the previous winter was likely to have been a genuine threat.
Lead researcher at the CDC Sema Mandal told Reuters Health that her team had found "strong evidence of other outbreaks".
Whooping cough causes uncontrollable coughing in victims, and infects up to 50 million people each year. If untreated, the disease can be fatal.
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