Following reports of a mumps outbreak in two Guelph high schools, the first cases in five years, Grey Bruce health authorities are reporting the first known case of tetanus in an unvaccinated child.
The unnamed 6-year-old was hospitalized in critical condition with recent reports saying there has been improvement in the condition and a transfer out of the intensive care unit.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is rare in Ontario, on average one case per year. Tetanus is a serious disease caused when tetanus spores get into a cut or puncture wound. Tetanus spores are found everywhere, in soil, dust, and manure. The disease is not spread from person to person. Tetanus causes cramping of the muscles in the neck, arms, legs and stomach. It may also cause painful convulsions. Even with early treatment, tetanus has a fatality rate of about 20%; highest rates are found in infants and the elderly.
Tetanus vaccine is routinely administered in combination with vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenza type b to children at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months of age. Completion of the primary series provides more than 99% protection. Booster doses of tetanus vaccines are given at 4 to 6 years of age and 14 to 16 years of age. A booster dose is recommended for adults every ten years for continued protection.