Sunday, September 26, 2010

a word about tetanus

(edited to add some numbers.)

yesterday, when i was getting some wood together to bring home to work on the washer, i stepped on a nail.

it went through the sole of my show and about 1/4 inch into my heel. at first i was nervous about the sight of blood and because it freaking hurt. i called to nicholas and told him to run into steven's grandparent's house to get steven and tell him i was bleeding.

by the time steven ran out, it was already clotting. there was like 1 tsp of blood total.

i wanted to go home and get it cleaned up but, as we were getting ready to leave, i changed my mind. i wanted to go over to the cab-over and get some stuff out of it.

right now, it's a little sore but nothing i can't handle. i've definitely had worse.

i had more than one person ask me, " was the nail rusty?! is your tetanus shot up to date??"

no and no. and even if it were rusty, it is no more likely to give me tetanus than any other deep cut.

you don't get tetanus from rust.

i'll say it again.

you do not get tetanus from rust.

my last tetanus shot was in 1994. (don't ask me how many times i had to write that date on girl scout permission slips. it was too many to count.)

i've had hundreds of cuts, deep and superficial, since then. this one is no different than any of those. in fact, i got another cut on my hand yesterday and 2 more today, one of which i had to duct tape closed so i could keep working.



Enters the body through a break in the skin. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.

from the mayo clinic (bolding mine):


The bacteria that cause tetanus, Clostridium tetani, are found in soil, dust and animal feces. When they enter a deep flesh wound, spores of the bacteria may produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin, which actively impairs your motor neurons, nerves that control your muscles. The effect of the toxin on your nerves can cause muscle stiffness and spasms — the major signs of tetanus.

so no, i am not going to get a tetanus shot because the small cut on my foot happened to be cause by a nail.

every year in america, there are 4.5 million dog bites, 37,000 nail gun injuries, and 500,000 burns, 16,300 non-fatal gunshot wounds. these are all examples of way tetanus spores can enter a human body. let's assume, for arguments sake, that these are the ONLY ways to get tetanus. that's 5,053,300 injuries per year.

there is an annual average of 43 reported cases. there were 500 cases reported annually before widespread use of the vaccine was used in the mid 1940s. i'll put myself in the pre-vaccination catagory because i am unvaccinated.

the percent chance of getting tetanus is <.01%. (i had to enter 5,000,000 into the field instead of the exact number because it errored.)

if i get lockjaw in 7-12 days, i'll let you know ;)

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