Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Boy in NZ

It happens - unvaccinated children do contract tetanus (as we had reported before). It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it is incredibly cruel. Alijah, a 7 year old Auckland (NZ) boy cut his foot (as children will do) and developed tetanus. The NZ Herald provides a harrowing description of what that means:
Within 36 hours, the 7-year-old Auckland boy was crippled by body spasms, unable to swallow and racked with pain.

"He was screaming in agony," mother Linda Williams said.

.../...

"It was hideous. He was spasming every three minutes. He was biting his tongue and bleeding. His arms were spasming and he was arching his back and his whole face and jaw was completely locked."

Alijah was admitted to a ward but 24 hours later he was moved to intensive care, put into an induced coma and paralysed by drugs to prevent the spasms and relieve the pain.

His breathing had to be monitored because the muscle contractions could close the airway, and later a tracheotomy tube was inserted in Alijah's throat to help him breathe.
Luckily, Alijah survived and could leave the hospital after 26 days, although he now faces a year of rehabilitation to relearn how to eat and walk. The parents are blaming themselves for their son's horrific ordeal and have since vaccinated their other children and asked other parents of unvaccinated children at their son's school to reconsider. Although both hold degrees in the science/health field, they had fallen for the anti-vaccine misinformation. Alijah's dad says:
Parents like us make the decision to not vaccinate on very little factual information about the actual consequences of the diseases - massive pain, disability and death - and a lot of non-factual, emotive information from the internet stating inflated figures on the frequency and severity of adverse reactions and conspiracy theories about 'evil' doctors, governments and drug companies.

.../...

Believing myths about vaccines is not the same as getting the facts. And that is the core problem.
We hear from more and more parents who are regretting their non-vaccine decision (e.g. against pertussis) and maybe it is about time more parents spoke about vaccinating. Currently, the discussion seems to be dominated by a very vocal minority, which, despite being on the very fringe manage to endanger children's lives.

ETA: a bit more info and renewed self awareness here.


18 comments:

  1. I recently saw someone use the most kids recover so vaccines are not necessary argument. When challenged about which if his kids he was willing to visit in a cemetery he protested but did not change his tune (he modified his original comment to something worse).

    These people have no idea how bad the diseases are, and even though 90% recover from tetanus it is not due to pure chance. They need extensive medical intervention, plus a long recovery time with a possibility of lifelong complications. And they refuse to open their minds to learn about the consequences of the diseases.

    ReplyDelete
  2. a similar case happened in Germany. After an injury the boy was vaccinated, but some days too late. He was transfered to the intensive care unit in M√ľnchen and survived.

    amang the anti-vaxxer this case was discussed here.

    http://www.impfschaden.info/index.php?option=com_ccboard&view=postlist&forum=3&topic=5150

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for the reminder - I did blog about this case, which illustrates the anti-vaccine delusions most perfectly:
      http://justthevax.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/tetanus-in-unvaccinated-teen.html

      Delete
  3. Just for the record I think it's fair to note that
    - there was a case of immunized case we haven't heard of in the media http://surv.esr.cri.nz/PDF_surveillance/MthSurvRpt/2012/201209SepRpt.pdf

    - furthermore, the NZ Herald article says “Dr Shepherd said there had been at least five cases of tetanus in unimmunised children at the Starship in the past 10 years.” which is, according to the Beyond Conformity blog, wrong. There have only been three, not more than five.

    Also of note is the behavior of the father; did he really expect that the kid possibly couldn't get tetanus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, you have not been keeping up with a tetanus booster every ten years? Also even three kids getting tetanus is too many.

      A few "fun" facts about tetanus:

      Even if you survive a cast of tetanus, you are not immune. You can get it again at any time.

      There is no herd immunity with tetanus, since it is in the environment (like the soil). Sometimes it has been transmitted by an insect bite (see table in this paper).

      The toxin created by the bacteria, tetanospasmin, is the second most deadly toxin right after botulism. The vaccine is actually to protect you from the toxin.

      Delete
    2. There seems to be a proven immunity to the toxin
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1092755


      Science Mom: please point me to where I could see her lying. This is a neutral question.

      Delete
    3. Since when is something that is almost forty years old a "new concept"? From the CDC Pink Book chapter on tetanus (it is free online, you should try looking it up): Because of the extreme potency of the toxin, tetanus disease does not result in tetanus immunity. Active immunization with tetanus toxoid should begin or continue as soon as the person’s condition has stabilized.

      Delete
  4. Anon, I can see a report of an adult with tetanus in 2010 but hadn't been vaccinated for 15 years prior. Beyond Conformity is a blog by anti-vaxx loon Hilary Butler who is deep in denial and lying about the dangers of tetanus in light of this case so I'm more inclined to believe an epidemiologist about how many cases there were.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There seems to be a proven immunity to the toxin
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1092755

    Science Mom: please point me to where I could see her lying. This is a neutral question.


    Perhaps you should read the full study. A handful of indigenous people, when exposed for decades may develop a correlate of immunity to tetanus. Not exactly a good replacement for vaccination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My favorite part is that she claimed the question was "neutral" right after accusing me of lying. That was hilarious.

      What is not so funny is that her child required (if it is the same previous "anonymous") lots of surgery as an infant. My adult son had open heart surgery last year, and we have been warned that the scarred tissue in his heart is vulnerable to infections.

      I fear for her child if she seriously thinks "natural immunity" is better than vaccines, especially with tetanus and other bacterial infections.

      Delete
    2. This is becoming a bit difficult. Let me break it down:

      1) it's the same anon all the time. I'll choose a nick next time. My fault.

      2) Science Mom said that Hilary Butler of the Beyond Conformity was deliberately lying. That's were this comment of mine comes in: (please point me to where I could see her lying. This is a neutral question). I wanted to kindly ask Science Mom to pick some facts from that blog and link to an evidence that says otherwise. That had nothing to do with you, Chris, no accusing.

      3) Chris,

      I fear for her child if she seriously thinks "natural immunity" is better than vaccines, especially with tetanus and other bacterial infections.
      Were you addressing me? I didn't really say what is my view of tetanus. I only pointed out that natural immunity can exist. That being said, I would never advise against vaccinating against tetanus, double-never when considering a surgery.

      Delete
    3. I was addressing Science Mom. And I can assume that you have not had a tetanus booster. Plus, you made the lying accusation after my comment, not after the one where Science Mom explained that Hilary Butler is not to be trusted.

      And you only read the abstract of a very old paper. If it was a common type of immunity you would have seen more followup that would have been better to cite. There is also naturally acquired immunity to rabies in an isolated indigenous population in South America. That does not mean in any way that someone living in the USA has the same "natural immunity."

      You really should make sure you and your children are current with tetanus boosters.

      Delete
    4. Some reading about Butler:
      http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=152096#p152096

      She is not exactly a skilled medical researcher, being that she has no relevant education, just a biased agenda. I remember her from my very short time on the sMothering forum several years ago (about 2004). She actually got banned from MDC.

      Delete
  6. My kids are unvaccinated and I feel really bad reading this. Even if the children survived, going thru that is horrible either way. Kind of the same way I feel about pertussis. I did not really weigh all this out though until my son came down with something that looked like pertussis. I am definitely taking mykids to get some of the vaccines and tetanus is definitely most important. My son does have autism but I have realized thru this whole pertussis scare that I would rather they both have autism than to have pertussis even if it is not deadly for most ppl. Going thru that kind of torment is bad and traumatizing. I feel horrible.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Spammer Alert Above.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 22 cases of Tetanus 2001-2013 in NZ, 3 deaths. This was one of the 22. Vaccination status of the other 21? Any information?

    https://surv.esr.cri.nz/PDF_surveillance/AnnualRpt/AnnualSurv/2013/2013AnnualSurvTables.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps you question should be directed to New Zealand's public health department. They should have those statistics. The American CDC does report the vaccine rates. Though remember that tetanus requires a booster every ten years.

      Delete