U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Chapter 15 - Whooping Cough

Contents

CHAPTER XV

Whooping Cough

Joseph Stokes, Jr., M. D.

The history of the Medical Department of the Army reports only 119 admissions for whooping cough in the total Army during World War 1.1 There were no deaths.

In adults, the disease is often difficult to diagnose and paroxysms of Coughing are usually attributed to other causes so that Hemophilus pertussis is rarely considered as a causative agent. It has been estimated by Collies 2 that approximately 75 percent of adults have had recognizable attacks of whooping cough in childhood, while about 95 to 98 percent are immune to the disease. Such data suggest that a considerable number of unrecognized cases without cough, with mild upper respiratory symptoms, or with a cough, not recognized as whooping cough, may well have occurred in childhood. Thus, the number of susceptible arriving at induction centers would be extremely few and would account for the low rates in World Wars I and 11.

The incidence in World War II may well have been higher than is indicated by table 47, which includes the total number of cases recorded and the rates.

TABLE 47.-Incidence of whooping cough in the U. S. Army, 1940-45

1The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War.Statistics. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1925, vol. XV, pt. 2, p. 86.
2 Collins, S. D.: Age Incidence cf the Common Communicable Diseases of Children; a Study of Case Rates Among All Children and Among Children Not Previously Attacked and of Death Rates and the Estimated Case Fatality. Pub. Health Rep. 44: 763-826, 5 Apr. 1929.


282

Studies of the best methods of immunization have been extensive since World War I. Inasmuch as whooping cough has not been a military problem, it would not seem appropriate to enter here into a discussion of the newer methods which have been developed nor will reference be made to their application or usefulness.