CDC: Unvaccinated Boy Almost Dies of Tetanus

CDC: Unvaccinated Boy Almost Dies of Tetanus

CDC: Unvaccinated Boy Almost Dies of Tetanus

The 2017 case is the first case of pediatric tetanus in OR in more than 30 years and alarmed infectious disease experts who said tetanus is nearly unheard of in the US since widespread immunization began in the 1940s.

A young boy in OR spent 47 days in an intensive care unit (ICU), resulting in more than $800,000 in medical costs, because he was not vaccinated against tetanus, according to a case study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The incident happened in 2017, when the boy cut his forehead while playing outside on a farm. At home, his wound was cleaned and bandaged. His wound was cleaned and sutured at home but almost a week later he began suffering from jaw clenching and involuntary muscle spasms. He was soon diagnosed with tetanus, a serious bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and could lead to death - but is preventable by vaccine.

The young boy went through a severe, life-threatening illness.

Dr. Carl Eriksson, a pediatric critical care specialist at Oregon Health & Science University, said at a news conference Friday that without medical care, the child would have died.

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The doctors diagnosed the boy with tetanus and prescribed him to stay in the hospital for about eight weeks. "He was alert and requested water but was unable to open his mouth".

He was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, and given treatments for tetanus, including a diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.

Because sound and light increased the intensity of his symptoms, the patient was kept in a darkened room with ear plugs and minimal stimulation. Although he recovered fully and is now back to his normal daily living, the news sparks medical professionals anew in promoting the importance of getting vaccinated. The next thing they know, the boy's neck and back started arching and his whole body became stiff with continuous muscle contractions. He was sedated, intubated, and placed on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe.

By the time he was transferred out of the ICU, the boy needed help walking 20 feet.

On day 54, his tracheostomy was removed.

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The child's 57-day hospital stay cost the family US$811,929 but it excluded air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation and ambulatory follow-up costs.

After spending 57 days in the hospital, the child was moved to a rehabilitation center where he regained the ability to walk, run and bike within 17 days. DTaP is the typical vaccine given to kids in five doses, all before the child is 6 years old.

After allowing the first dose of vaccine, the parents refused a second dose for their son, despite doctors giving them information about the advantages of being immunized against tetanus. The causative bacterium, Clostridium tetani, which is usually found in soil, can enter the body through open wounds or any disruption in the skin.

Anywhere from three to 21 days after infection, symptoms appear: muscle spasms, lockjaw, difficulty swallowing and breathing and seizures.

"This is an terrible disease, but ... we have had a mechanism to completely prevent it, and the reason that we have virtually no cases anymore in the United States is because we vaccinate, literally, everyone", Schaffer added.

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According to the CDC, from 2009 through 2015, there were a total of 197 cases of tetanus and 16 tetanus-related deaths in the United States. But despite all they'd been through, his parents declined that shot, along with all other recommended vaccinations. Other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, have reemerged in recent years, in large part because of an anti-vaccination movement and vaccine misinformation. According to the World Health Organisation, "vaccine hesitancy" is one of the top 10 threats to global health this year.

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