PORTLAND, Ore. – In its weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released information about a 2017 case of tetanus in Oregon, the first pediatric tetanus case in the state in more than 30 years.
According to the report, a 6-year-old boy who had received no immunizations, fell and scraped his head, leading to the infection, 57 days in the hospital, and more than $800,000 in medical bills.
The CDC says the boy was playing outside on a farm when he cut his forehead. The wound was cleaned and sutured at home, but six days later, he began showing symptoms of tetanus. He was crying, clenching his jaw, experiencing muscle spasms and arching his neck and back. When breathing grew difficult for him, his parents contacted emergency medical services and he was transported by air to a tertiary pediatric medical center.
The boy was diagnosed with tetanus and had to be sedated due to his spasms.
After about 8 weeks of inpatient care, followed by about a month of rehabilitation care, the boy was able to run again and ride a bicycle.
Even after the boy’s lengthy medical treatment, and after extensively reviewing the risks and benefits of the tetanus vaccine, the boy’s family declined the second dose of DTaP and any other immunizations physicians recommended.
The boy’s inpatient charges totaled $811,929.
The CDC says widespread use of tetanus vaccines have led 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 CDC recommends five doses of DTaP for children at ages 2, 4, and 6 months of age, then a dose between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth dose between 4 and 6 years of age.
Throughout life, booster doses of the vaccine are recommended every 10 years.