Country Living Series

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Make sure your tetanus booster is up-to-date

I was climbing over a stack of wood yesterday when I brought my full weight down on a board with three nails on it.


It's a sick sensation to feel nails punch through the sneaker and into one's foot. Three of them made me feel queasy for a moment and I had to sit down, even though there wasn't much actual pain from the punctures because the nails were so thin and sharp.

Here's my (dirty) sock, showing the small blood marks from the puncture. Not much to see, is there? There wasn't much to clean on my foot, either.


I limped for a few hours, but except for a bit of soreness today, my foot feels fine.

However the first thing I did was to call our local medical clinic and speak to their Records Department to see when my last tetanus shot was. My last shot was in 2008, so I'm good for another five years. (Tetanus boosters should be given every ten years.)

Tetanus, as you doubtless all know, is a neurotoxin that incubates under anaerobic conditions, such as deep puncture wounds. The common term is lockjaw, because muscular spams of the jaw are some of the first symptoms. The condition causes prolonged and agonizing muscle spams. For unvaccinated people, the mortality rate can be very high (50 to 70%).

Painting by Sir Charles Bell, 1809 - Patient Suffering from Tetanus

In short, tetanus is no joke. And on a farm, there are endless opportunities for puncture wounds -- wire, nails, tools, horns, you name it. The fact that we can get a shot once a decade to protect us from such horrors is nothing short of a modern miracle.

I urge everyone to make sure your tetanus booster is up to date. You never know when you'll step on a board with three nails.

39 comments:

  1. Dang! On a 1 to 10 scale of CRINGE factor, that's at least a 6! Wishing you an uncomplicated recovery,
    MM

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  2. Or sit on a fishing lure and get the hook stuck in your .....
    That is how I keep current.
    Terry
    Fla.

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  3. I feel your pain! In fact, I felt your pain when I was about 10 or 11 and stepped on a nail on a board in deep grass, so painful! God bless you with swift healing.

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  4. Tetanus is no fun. We made sure to get ours again when working in the tornado areas recovering property.

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  5. I'be inclined to go in and have a booster with that many punctures.

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  6. Mayo Clinic says "If you experience a puncture wound and it's been more than five years since your last tetanus shot — or you can't remember when you had your last tetanus shot — it's best to get the booster shot.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tetanus-shots/AN01497
    So please ask your doctor what you should do. I know I was told to get one and it had been not quite 5 years. Better safe than sorry.

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  7. Rule 1 always knock nails out or bend them over when stacking used timber. A&E is full of folks in too much of a rush to do this. Rule 2 if you are ignoring rule 1 then buy boots with steel plates in the soles.

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  8. I'm sure sorry to hear about your injury, Patrice. I hope you'll take some beta carotine.

    Take care.

    A.McSp

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  9. My boots have a plate in the sole to stop nails. so far its saved me several trips to the doctors. Hope you get better soon. Also make your hubby carry you around

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  10. I have a friend who worked on a construction site with a man from South America. The man was TERRIFIED of tetanus as he had seen people die from it.

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  11. Ouch! I hope your foot heals well. We just 'renewed' our tetanus shots last week. You never know where the next scratch, cut or puncture will occur around the farm.

    Fern

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  12. In the face of SHTF having a current tetanus shot could save your life.

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  13. They will go through a boot, been there done that.

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  14. Hope your foot heals quickly. We are told here that though you can go 10 years between tetanus (booster) shots if you have a cut where soil or metal is involved and it has been more than 5 years since your last shot you need to come in and get a shot. We are told a tetanus shot does NOT provide 10 years of coverage. And this from WebMD confirms that... you appear to be within the 5 year window but you could go in for a booster to be safe.

    WebMD http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/tetanus
    Tetanus

    Tetanus (lockjaw) is a preventable but dangerous bacterial infection that causes muscle spasms, trouble opening the mouth (lockjaw), trouble swallowing, and seizures. Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound or cut.

    Tetanus bacteria thrive only in the absence of oxygen. The deeper and narrower the wound, the less oxygen is around it, and the greater the possibility of tetanus. For example, tetanus bacteria can thrive in a puncture wound from a dirty nail.

    Following the recommended immunization schedule helps prevent tetanus. Before age 6, children receive a series of tetanus shots (DTaP). Then, teens and adults get regular tetanus booster shots.

    A person who has a dirty cut or wound should get a tetanus shot as soon as possible if at least 5 years have passed since his or her last tetanus immunization.

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  15. This has nothing to do with tetanus, but I have a blog I think you should add to your blog roll. My friend Emily's blog is wonderful. She's a Christian, homeschooling, frugal mom of 6 whose extremely talented 14 year old son was just invited to attend a prestigious ballet school in Moscow. And did I mention she lives up near you? Her blog is messagesfromthemothership.blogspot.com

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  16. This has nothing to do with tetanus, but I have a blog I think you should add to your blog roll. My friend Emily's blog is wonderful. She's a Christian, homeschooling, frugal mom of 6 whose extremely talented 14 year old son was just invited to attend a prestigious ballet school in Moscow. And did I mention she lives up near you? Her blog is messagesfromthemothership.blogspot.com

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  17. Ouch! We try to be so careful with nails. However we use a lot of wood and those two things seem to go together. First thing I did when we moved up here was to get THAT shot. Good thing, too - I tend to be a wee bit accident prone sometimes.

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  18. One of the few vaccinations that I have absolutely no qualms about getting. Don't hesitate to get a doctor or at least some antibiotics involved at the first sign of infection. Having infected punctures packed with iodine soaked gauze is uncomfortable to say the least!

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  19. Yes there are. Especially when there are miles of old fencing and barbed wire to dig up.
    We got ours this year.
    Glad you are okay. Hope it stays that way.

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  20. If I may play the Dutch-uncle, why aren't you and yours wearing hard sole boots on your farm? Pure stupidity to be wearing tennis shoes on a farm beyond the front porch. What happens when that clinic is permanently closed, you won't know that answer to your last booster. An idea from an old country doc I used to go to, on your back of your driver's license, write DT then the date you received the booster with permanent magic marker, then you will always know. Thanks for letting me play dutch...

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  21. I've always heard that if you receive a deep puncture wound and it's been more than five years since your last tetanus shot, you should go ahead and get a booster. Found this on medicinenet.com (in part) that backs up what I had heard:

    "If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster, contact your doctor to bring your immunizations up to date. A booster vaccination is also recommended if you sustain a deep, contaminated wound and more than five years have passed since the last dose, since protective antibody levels may fall after five years in some people. You should also receive a series of three tetanus immunizations if you did not receive the childhood vaccine."

    Better safe than sorry! :-)

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  22. Ouch......yikes!!!

    I'm not up to date on my tetanus....probably five years out. The injection site swelled and got quite red the last time so I've been a bit hesitant. Besides, around here unless you've got absolute proof, they just give you another shot.

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  23. I was in the ER three years ago getting a bite cleaned up and bandaged when they asked me when my last tetanus shot was. Since it was over 5 years (but less than 10) they insisted on giving me another one.

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  24. Four years ago I was escorting an inmate to the prison hospital. He was getting treatment for shortness of breath with a pulse ox. Halfway through the treatment he grabbed the pulse ox tube and wrapped it around his neck. I pulled had to keep him from strangling himself and in the process got a cut on my right hand from his handcuffs. I ended up having to go the hospital for my tetanus shot and so that's why I'm current.

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  25. Off topic, Patrice .. but I ran in to this today.
    I have not verified it but thought of you guys when I heard it.
    Landscaping cloth:
    Go to the pulp mills ..
    They throw away something they use to get the moisture out of the pulp.
    It is like landscaping cloth but is much thicker and larger.
    You can get 800lb rolls for free, or so I hear.

    -Old Soldier

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    1. This is a great tip! I live near a mill and will definitely follow up on this as we're getting ready to re-do our main garden area.

      Thanks, Old Soldier!

      A. McSp

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  26. When i stepped on an old rusty nail, I called my EMT friend. I had my shot a year ago from the accident and she said if it wasn't in the last 6 months I needed to go to the emergency room and get one now. So I did.

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  27. I don't know if it does any good, but when I get a puncture wound, I usually TRY to make them bleed so that whatever is in there comes out. Glad you're up to date on Tetanus!!

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  28. OW! Man. I felt that all the way out here.

    We've probably all done that -- taken a step and gotten that horrible, painful surprise. When I saw the headline on this post with that photo, I thought, "Oh No!"

    Puncture wounds are insidious because the pointy thing pushes dirt and toxins down deep where we can't get at them.

    Be well.

    Just me

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  29. Hi Patrice,
    Might not be a bad idea to stock up on some COLLOIDAL SILVER. It kills just about everything that can kill you or make you sick, including Tetanus. Check out "Colloidal silver" +tetanus on google and you will find some good info. We simply WON'T be without it here since it has so many uses which we have tested personally. I would take it internally as well as externally for your puncture wounds. You can get it for $12.95 a bottle (vs. $26.00 a bottle) at http://www.campingsurvival.com/silanalnewco.html

    The storage life on this is really good too so I buy a case at a time. Gargle with it for a sore throat, spray it in your eye for conjunctivitis, spray a 50% solution on your store bought veg to kill any bad stuff, apply topically to a rash for excellent relief, spray into nostrils for a sinus infection, take 2-3 tbsp 3-4 times a day for asthma & whooping cough & especially Flu. The list goes on and on.

    Personally, I will now take this rather than another vaccine because you can no longer get 'just' a Tetanus shot. It is now always combined with diptheria and pertussis plus too many non-essential nasty-things that are put into vaccines. I yearn for the simpler days of medicine when it was about curing you, not keeping you a patient for life and making $$$$.

    God Bless and may God heal you quickly,
    Janet in MA

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    1. Actually you can just get tetanus shots, you just have to request it and most places don't stock it. They cost more than the combined vaccines but are still available.

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  30. I was due for a tetanus booster recently and the doctor actually gave me a Tdap. I'm 53 and she recommended I have this rather than just the Td because I have young grandchildren who are at risk for pertussis and I've never received a booster. This is the case with many adults. The vaccine I originally had MANY years ago may no longer be efffective agains pertussis. Pertussis is the only vaccine-preventable disease that continues to rise in the U.S. It is thought that waning immunity and inadaquate vaccinations have played a part in the increase in whooping cough. I certainly would not want to be responsible for causing anyone to become ill when this is a preventable illness.

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    1. Same here; I sure wouldn't want to get whooping cough in my fifties! All of us baby boomers should get the Tdap vaccine when it's time for a tetanus booster.

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  31. hi.
    my daughter had a terrible reaction to the second D{PT vaccine when she was a baby. the doctor didn't give her any more pertussis [whooping cough] vaccine just the DT.
    however, she recently had to go to the health department for a tetanus shot and the nurse asked questions which led me to tell about the pertussis reaction.
    she warned that it is not a reaction that can be outgrown, it becomes WORSE with age. it is entered in daughter's record that she never be given tetanus vaccine with pertussis in it.
    before shooting your kids remember if they had a severe reaction to thje vaccine when they were babies. it could be life-threatening.
    deb harvey

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  32. Hi Patrice.

    It's been 2 days since you stepped on the nails. Just wondering if any signs of infection showed up, and after reading all of the above posts, did you go in and get a booster tetanus shot?

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    1. No signs of infection and my foot is only the tiniest bit sore. Nonetheless I'm going in next week for a tetanus booster. No sense taking chances.

      - Patrice

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    2. I think this is an excellent idea. I too am always up to date, however, stirring the compost pile, somehow I stepped on the pitch fork....UCK! Had to go in, have it cleaned up, (that was not fun) and received the DTaP. Kinda glad, since I now have a granddaughter, and here in NC whooping cough is raising its ugly head.
      Kelly in K'ville

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  33. Soaking your foot in epsom salt would still be a good idea!

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  34. Glad to hear you're getting a booster!

    Absolutely no sense in taking chances.

    Just Me

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