Bad tests led thousands to take whooping cough antibiotics needlessly
ATLANTA ( AP) - A reported boom in U. S. whooping cough cases is now being questioned after health officials discovered a regularly used lab test misdiagnosed cases in suspected outbreaks in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Tennessee.
The false test results led thousands of people to take antibiotics unnecessarily and even caused a New Hampshire hospital to limit the number of patients admitted since hospital workers were thought to be infected.
The testing errors were reported Thursday by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a potentially fatal bacterial respiratory infection. Its name comes from the sound victims make as they try to recover their breath after a coughing fit.
Government health officials say cases have tripled in the United States since 2001, with nearly 26,000 cases reported in 2005. Nearly half of those cases were diagnosed with the testing method now called into question, and that has raised doubts about the true number of cases.