Unsplash | Piron Guillaume

Unvaccinated Child Is Hospitalized With State's First Tetanus Case In 30 Years

Although it's difficult to understand exactly how anti-vaxxer rhetoric has gained as much influence in this country as its community can now boast, it's possible that part of the problem is with our frame of reference on various diseases.

By this, I mean that we no longer understand the horror.

Vaccines have so effectively protected the population against diseases like measles, rubella, polio, or tetanus, we're less likely to witness the severe effects of these diseases firsthand.

So when credulous people are told misinformation about vaccines causing autism or brain damage, that risk, however imaginary, seems more clear and present.

Flickr | md.joymahmud@ymail.com

However, when children aren't vaccinated, they become unwitting and tragic reminders of how nightmarish conditions like tetanus can be.

In what began as an ordinary day, a six-year-old boy in Oregon cut his forehead while playing on a farm.

Reddit | Jobeanie123

As Oregon Live reported, the boy seemed to recover well at first after his parents cleaned and sutured the wound at home.

After six days, however, he started crying as his jaw clenched shut and he experienced muscle spasms in his arms and upper body.

Reddit | Rosamond30

These spasms would soon get worse and the boy would start having difficulty breathing. His parents then called for help and he was eventually airlifted to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

When he arrived, he was diagnosed with tetanus, which made him the first case of the condition that Oregon has seen for 30 years.

Wikimedia Commons | Wellcome Images

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the mass-production of the tetanus vaccine has led to a 95% decline is cases since the '40s, but the boy's parents had not vaccinated him against tetanus.

When the boy arrived, his spasms continued and he couldn't drink water despite incredible thirst.

Reddit | tubesockk

As Oregon Live reported, he also experienced involuntary neck and back arching that worsened for days.

He was connected to a ventilator and given a dose of the tetanus vaccine and a treatment made from donated blood plasma called immune globulins.

While he was treated, the boy was kept in a dark room and was given earplugs in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Unsplash | Piron Guillaume

This was because his spasms got worse around noise, light, and other kinds of external stimulation.

Doctors also fought to reduce his rapidly escalated blood pressure and high fever.

The boy would end up spending 57 days in the hospital and an additional 17 days in a rehabilitation center to regain his ability to run and ride a bicycle.

Reddit | OhCoyle

His hospital stay would end up costing $811,929, but this amount didn't include the cost of airlifting him or his time at the rehab center.

Worst of all, there's no guarantee that this won't all happen to him again.

Wikimedia Commons | Lamel J. Hinton

As Oregon Live reported, tetanus is unlike measles in that a person does not develop an immunity once they've contracted it. If they remain unvaccinated, they can be re-infected any number of times.

This concern becomes more grave when you find out the parents' response to the situation.

Because despite the ordeal he had experienced, his parents still refused to give him a second dose of the tetanus vaccinations, as well as the other shots recommended by doctors.

Unfortunately, avoiding another tetanus infection doesn't just amount to staying away from rusty nails.

Reddit | marcodls

As Livescience reported, any deep, penetrating wound could potentially lead to infection because the Clostridium tetani bacteria behind tetanus can be found anywhere from soil to dust to feces.

h/t: Oregon Live

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