Tetanus and the Vaccines that Prevent It


Measles, Whooping Cough, and Tetanus… vaccine-preventable diseases have been popping up again with alarming ramifications.

Take the 2017 case of Tetanus reported in Oregon, where a six-year-old boy spent 47 days in intensive care battling the disease.

After cutting his forehead while playing on a farm, the boy began to exhibit common symptoms of Tetanus: muscle spasms, involuntary arching of his neck and back, and a clenched jaw. Soon, he was struggling to breathe, and his parents called emergency services.

Doctors were told that the child was unvaccinated and quickly administered the vaccine in an attempt to reverse the effects of the disease. It took 57 days in the hospital for him to recover, and the costs were astronomical; the hospital bill totaled $811,929, excluding the cost of air transportation, inpatient rehab, and follow-up costs.

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious disease caused by a bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system. After the bacteria invades the body, it produces a poison that causes painful muscle contractions, particularly in the jaw and neck muscles. It can interfere with the ability to breathe and can be life-threatening

Tetanus vaccines have been available in the US since the 1940s and have proven widely effective. This was the first case of pediatric Tetanus reported in Oregon in more than 30 years.

To prevent Tetanus, the CDC recommends the DTaP vaccine for infants and children younger than seven and Tdap or Td for anyone older, including teens and adults.

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