Tetanus case in Grey-Bruce prompts increase in vaccinations
A case of tetanus reported by the Grey Bruce Health Unit has prompted a surge in vaccinations, officials say.
An unimmunized child was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but has since improved and been transferred from intensive care to a pediatric medical bed.
It is the first case of tetanus reported in the region.
"It's an old, old bug and we don't see it very often now. The average is one (case) in Ontario...per year," says Dr. Hazel Lynn of the Grey-Bruce Health Unit.
But, it is a serious disease with a fatality rate of about 20 per cent, even with early treatment.
It is contracted when tetanus spores get into a cut or puncture wound. Tetanus spores are found everywhere, in soil, dust, and manure.
Symptoms include cramping of the muscles in the neck, arms, legs and stomach, and it can also cause painful convulsions.
A vaccine is routinely administered as part of a group of vaccines that includes diphtheria, pertussis and polio, at two, four, six, and 18 months of age.
Booster doses are given at four to six years old and 14 to 16 years of age. A booster dose is recommended for adults every 10 years.
But about 10 per cent of kids in Grey and Bruce counties aren't immunized against tetanus, mostly due to a choice made by parents.
But this most recent case has changed some anti-vaxxers' - those opposed to vaccines - minds.
"[They] now recognize there is an appreciable risk to their children from tetanus spores and illness and infection and are coming and having those children vaccinated, which is fantastic," says Dr. Christine Kennedy, Grey-Bruce Associate Medical Officer of Health.
The health community hopes skepticism surrounding vaccines is waning, after years of questions over the effectiveness of immunizations and what side effects they may be causing.
"If you look at our increased expectation for healthy life, immunizations is probably the number one thing that has prevented early deaths," says Lynn.