A 6-year-old unvaccinated boy from Oregon was forced to undergo excruciating pain for nearly eight weeks in the hospital after he contracted tetanus, the first case of its kind in the state in nearly 30 years. His parents now face nearly $1 million in medical bills.
The disease is preventable by taking a vaccine, but the child wasn’t vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the widespread use of the tetanus vaccine has led to a 95 percent decline in the number of tetanus cases since the 1940s.
Tetanus, a bacteria that lives in the soil, is still relatively easy to contract if not vaccinated.
The CDC released a report Thursday about the 2017 tetanus case as part of their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which aggregates field studies and discussions of contagious disease outbreaks throughout the U.S. and world.
The report, which comes amid a measles outbreak in Washington and Oregon that has sickened 75 people (most of them unvaccinated children), notes that the young boy contracted the disease after he cut his forehead while playing outside on a farm.
The boy’s parents reportedly cleaned and stitched his cut at home, but six days later, the boy began to cry as his limbs involuntarily spasmed and his jaw began to clench tight. His parents sought medical help only after his neck and back began to arch and he started to experience spasms across his entire body and struggled to breathe.
While being treated at the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, his lockjaw prevented the boy from drinking water, which he craved.
He had to have a tube placed into his windpipe and then was hooked up to a machine that helped him breathe, the report said.
He was later administrated the tetanus and pertussis vaccine along with tetanus immune globulin.
The Hill notes:
After he was given the medication, doctors placed the boy “in a darkened room with ear plugs and minimal stimulation” as loud noise and light seemed to worsen his condition. In total, the boy required nearly “8 weeks of inpatient care, followed by rehabilitation care, before he was able to resume normal activities,” the CDC said in the report.
But despite “extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians,” the boy’s parents declined a second dose of the tetanus-fighting medication and “any other recommended immunizations.”
According to Oregon Live:
Most parents choose to fully vaccinate their children, who receive doses of DTaP, the diptheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine, at ages 2, 4 and 6 months, then again between 15 and 18 months and finally a fifth dose between 4 and 6 years old.
The immunity wears out about every 10 years, so federal health officials recommend children and adults get booster shots of the vaccine for only diptheria and tetanus every 10 years.
However, knowing all of that, the CDC noted that the parents of the child chose not to give him a second dose of the vaccine or any other recommended immunizations.