Unvaccinated six-year-old boy gets tetanus; treatment costs US$800K


The boy's symptoms started as crying fits, jaw clenching, muscle spasms, and neck and back arching. Once he had difficulty breathing, he was transported by air to a pediatric medical center, where he was diagnosed with tetanus, according to the CDC.

Tetanus is caused by infection with the Clostridium tetani bacterium. Tetanus spores are everywhere in the environment, including dust and soil.by spores entering the body through broken skin - even if wounds are superficial, scrapes and cuts can be enough for transmission.

News about the tetanus case comes as lawmakers in OR and Washington are considering bills that would end non-medical exemptions for routine childhood vaccines as the Pacific Northwest weathers its third month of a measles outbreak.

"It was hard to take care of him, to watch him suffer", says Judith Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious-disease physician who co-authored the article in the CDC's online journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

They put him in a darkened room with earplugs in because any type of stimulation - light, sound, or movement - made his muscle spasms worse.

But the necessary medical interventions didn't stop there. His blood pressure shot up, and he became feverish. The boy's body temperature would fluctuate between 97 and 105ºF (36.1 and 40.6ºC).

On day 35, they were able to take him off medication that blocked some of the muscle spasms. He was on a ventilator for the majority of the time, and he also had a tracheostomy.

On day 47, he was transferred to an intermediate care unit.

It was the state's first tetanus case in over 30 years, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN reports. He had to be sedated, intubated, and placed on mechanical ventilation. Almost all of the sick patients hadn't gotten their measles vaccinations.

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"Fortunately, the emergency department physicians immediately recognized the symptoms of severe tetanus", Judith Guzman-Cottrill, an author of the report and a pediatrics professor at Oregon Health & Science University, told The Washington Post in an email.

"The amount of trauma that this little boy underwent and will probably continue to feel for a very long time is just tragic".

"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". Since the, cases have dwindled from more than 500 annually to fewer than 100.

The tetanus case of this boy is the first in more than 30 years in Oregon.

An unvaccinated OR boy who spent eight weeks in intensive care and nearly died after contracting tetanus was cared for by a medical team of more than 100 people.

"The way to treat tetanus is you have to outlast it". Children aged four through six years old should receive a booster shot.

Liberal-leaning OR and Washington have some of the nation's highest statewide vaccine exemption rates, driven in part by low vaccination levels in scattered communities and at some private and alternative schools.

Now a measles outbreak in that area has resulted in more than 71 infections. According to the World Health Organisation, "vaccine hesitancy" is one of the top 10 threats to global health this year.

"It is within all parents' rights to ask questions about procedures that kids get". Uninsured or underinsured children may be eligible to receive vaccines at no cost through the Vaccines For Children program. "It completely revolutionized children's quality of life and being able to live disease free", said January.