Health Care

Unvaccinated boy diagnosed with tetanus, hospitalized almost 2 months — CDC

Unvaccinated boy diagnosed with tetanus, hospitalized almost 2 months — CDC”

On day 47, he was moved out of the ICU and into an intermediate care unit at the hospital.

The boy was Oregon's first case of tetanus in nearly 30 years, according to the CDC, citing the Oregon Health Authority.

A report released Friday on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website outlined a 2017 case of tetanus in an unvaccinated child in Oregon.

The boy was playing outdoors when he got a cut on his forehead. He also had his wound cleaned and treated again, the CDC said. The boy's jaw began clenching, and his neck and back were arched - a trademark indication of tetanus called opisthotonus that is caused by involuntary muscle spasms. The boy subsequently received a diagnosis of tetanus and required approximately 8 weeks of inpatient care, followed by rehabilitation care, before he was able to resume normal activities.

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

It would be only the start of a downward spiral and lengthy hospital stay for the boy. He was alert and even requested for water.

Because sound and light increased the intensity of his symptoms, the patient was kept in a darkened room with ear plugs and minimal stimulation. His blood pressure shot up, and he became feverish. He was still undergoing spasms, so he was sedated, placed on a ventilator to help him breathe, and a tube was placed in his trachea.

By Day 50, the boy could walk a few steps with assistance, and at Day 54 he was transferred to 17 more days at a rehab facility. However, the estimate does not include the cost of air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation and the use of an ambulance, the report says. On day 44 of his hospital stay, he came off the ventilator and tolerated drinking clear liquids.

Dr. Judith Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at OHSU, says she had never before seen a case of tetanus and never expected to see one in her career. "The complex and prolonged care led to the high treatment cost". While talking about the vaccines, the CDC also recommends that children are given five doses of the DTaP vaccine at two, four and six months of age, at 15-18 months of age and at four to six years of age.

The child was given an emergency dose of the tetanus vaccine, but his parents declined to give him a second dose, or any other vaccinations.

Tetanus is an uncommon but very serious neuromuscular disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Throughout history, the disease was sometimes referred to as "lockjaw" because of the cramping of the jaw muscles that occur with its onset.

"The CDC report says tetanus vaccines have contributed to a" 95 percent decline in the number of tetanus cases and a 99 percent decrease in the number of tetanus-related deaths since the 1940s".

The child's case "comes amid a measles outbreak in Washington and OR that has sickened 75 people, majority unvaccinated children", the Oregonian reported.

The modern anti-vaccination movement appears to have been sparked by a 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and a dozen colleagues which claimed that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine might be linked to autism in children.

The World Health Organization lists "vaccine hesitancy", defined as "the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines", alongside the deadly Ebola virus as one of the 10 biggest threats to global health in 2019.

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