According to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, a six-year-old Oregon boy was hospitalized for 57 days following a diagnosis of tetanus.
The boy, who allegedly never received a tetanus vaccination, reportedly cut his head "while playing outdoors on a farm." He was not taken to any medical facility, and his would was cleaned and sewn up at home.
Less than a week later (approximately 6 days), the boy began exhibiting symptoms of tetanus, including "jaw clenching, and involuntary upper extremity muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back," according to the report.
When he began to have trouble breathing, the boy was taken to a hospital, where he received care.
His wound was cleaned, damaged tissue was removed, and he was given a DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), as well as "tetanus immune globulin." The boy reportedly suffered high blood pressure and his temperature reached 104.9 degrees. Five days into the boy’s hospital stay, doctors resorted to using a tracheostomy.
The report continues:
Starting on hospital day 35, the patient tolerated a 5-day wean from neuromuscular blockade. On day 44, his ventilator support was discontinued, and he tolerated sips of clear liquids. On day 47, he was transferred to the intermediate care unit. Three days later, he walked 20 feet with assistance. On day 54, his tracheostomy was removed, and 3 days later, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center for 17 days.
In total, the "inpatient charges" alone cost more than $800,000. Following the boy’s recovery, the family allegedly refused further DTaP.
The report notes that "this is the first pediatric tetanus case in [over 30] years in Oregon."
According to the Mayo Clinic, "tetanus is caused by a toxin made by spores of bacteria, Clostridium tetani, found in soil, dust and animal feces. When the spores enter a deep flesh wound, they grow into bacteria that can produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin."
While a tetanus vaccine was in development as early as the 1920s, it wasn’t given to children regularly until the late-1940s. From the late-1940s to today, tetanus cases have dropped from between 500 and 600 annually to an approximate annual rate of 29, reports the CDC.
Of the 197 reported cases of tetanus in the years 2009 – 2015, 16 people died. That’s an 8.1% mortality rate.
According to the CDC, 2016 data show that 62.2% of adults were up-to-date on their tetanus vaccination. A great majority of young children and babies are sufficiently vaccinated.
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 findings were later and repeatedly debunked, but the myth has persisted.
As it turns out, Wakefield "had been funded by lawyers who had been engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies," according to a paper published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2011. Additionally, the paper reports that Wakefield and others "were guilty of deliberate fraud (they picked and chose data that suited their case; they falsified facts)."