Cleanup - Tetanus

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Nebraska Health and Human Services System officials recommend storm victims and volunteers to get tetanus shots.

Storms devastated parts of the state May 22nd and hundreds were left homeless. Hundreds more have turned out to help clean up.

The state's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Raymond, says we have flooding, and a lot of dirt and debris out there. He said in a news release Monday that tetanus bacteria usually lurk in soil and dust. He says if someone has a deep cut or wound and is working in an area where they are likely to get dirty, they risk exposure to tetanus.

Raymond says he would encourage all people involved in the disaster cleanup to get a tetanus shot if they have not had a booster in the last ten years.

Tetanus causes painful spasms and tightening of the muscles and can lead to locking of the jaw so a person can't open his or her mouth, swallow or breathe.

Hospitalization and treatment are usually required for tetanus; death occurs in about three out of 10 cases. Extended Web Coverage

About the Tetanus Vaccine

  • Tetanus (lockjaw) is a serious disease and is caused by a germ that enters the body through a cut or wound.

  • Tetanus causes serious, painful spasms of all muscles. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the patient cannot open his or her mouth or swallow.

  • Benefits include protection against tetanus and diptheria. Because of vaccination, there are many fewer cases of these diseases. Cases are rare in children. There would be many more cases if people weren't vaccinated.

  • The vaccine is made for people 7 years and older. After a person gets the third does, a dose is needed every 10 years all through life.

  • As with any medicine, there are very small risks that serious problems, even death, could occur after getting a vaccine. The risks from the vaccine are much smaller than the risks from the diseases if people stopped using the vaccine. Almost all people who get the vaccine have no problems from it.

Source: for Disease Control and Prevention).