Unvaccinated Boy Spends 57 Days In The Hospital After Reported Tetanus Infection

Unvaccinated boy spends 47 days in ICU with tetanus – and his parents still refuse to get him vaccinated

Unvaccinated boy spends 47 days in ICU with tetanus – and his parents still refuse to get him vaccinated

When he finally recovered, his parents reportedly refused any vaccinations.

This case was discussed in the "Notes from the Field" in the latest issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

An article published in Stat News tells the story of a six-year-old boy from OR who had never received a single vaccine.

The boy was playing outdoors when he got a cut on his forehead. He went home and had his wounds cleaned and sutured. Tetanus cases have declined more than 95 percent.

Tetanus is an acute neuromuscular disease that poses a danger, especially to younger children.

It was all going well until the sixth day when the boy started experiencing muscle spasms along with the clenching of the jaw.

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Later that day, he had difficulty breathing which resulted in his parents requesting emergency medical services and the boy being airlifted to Oregon Health and Science University's pediatric center. But he could not open his mouth because of the jaw-lock that had occurred to him because of infection of tetanus along with the muscle spasms. His breathing was declining because his throat muscles and diaphragm were also having spasms.

The child's care - not including the air ambulance and inpatient rehabilitation - cost almost $1 million, about 72 times the mean for a pediatric hospitalization in the US, the paper noted.

St. Luke's Work Well Clinic Medical Assistant Crissy Parmeter gives a tetanus shot to an Iowa resident at the St. Luke's Work Well Clinic June 16, 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Still, his condition worsened.

On day 35, they were able to take him off medication that blocked some of the muscle spasms.

"We minimized stimulation because the child was exquisitely sensitive to light, touch, sound", Dr. Judith Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland who helped care for the boy, told Healthline.

In the hospital, the boy had to stay in the intensive care unit. He was able to walk 20 feet, with help, after 50 days. Soon after, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center for 17 more days before he could eventually return home.

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In total the boy was sedated for weeks, with 44 days spent attached to a ventilator.

"Despite extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians, the family declined the second dose of DTaP and any other recommended immunizations", the CDC report stated.

"The cost of one DTaP [diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine] dose is somewhere around $24 to $30 a dose, and this could have been prevented with five doses of DTaP vaccine", said Guzman-Cottrill.

The doctors noted that his hospital bill totaled $811,929, which is about 72 times the average hospital bill for children. And that didn't include costs for air transport, rehab and any follow-up costs.

This was the first pediatric tetanus case in OR in more than 30 years.

"This is an very bad disease, but. we have had a mechanism to completely prevent it, and the reason that we have virtually no cases anymore in the United States is because we vaccinate, literally, everyone".

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And while some parents cite concerns that childhood vaccines may be linked to autism, this false claim has been debunked by several large, long-running studies-including just this week, in a new report in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed no association between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

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