The boy was in the intensive care unit, in critical condition, for over six weeks.
An unvaccinated 6-year-old boy in OR spent 57 days in a hospital, including 47 days in the intensive care unit, and racked up nearly $1 million in medical costs after being diagnosed with tetanus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.
The report said the boy was playing outdoors on a farm when he cut his forehead in 2017. The boy's wound was treated and sutured at home.
Six days later, the boy cried as his jaw clenched, his limbs experienced involuntarily spasms and his neck and back started arching.
Doctors gave the child a diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) during the course of his eight-weeks of treatment, which the CDC estimated to cost over $800,000. It was the first instance of the life-threatening neuromuscular disease in a child in OR in more than three decades.
Case study co-author Dr. Carl Eriksson, an assistant professor of pediatric critical care at Oregon Health & Science University, who was involved in the boy's treatment, wrote in an email to TIME that severe tetanus cases are very rare in the USA, where vaccination effectively prevents such conditions.
Upon admission, the boy was still conscious and asked for water, but the "lockjaw" of tetanus rendered him unable to open his mouth. His scalp wound was cleaned by medical professionals.
Nevertheless, the spasms causing his back and neck to arch worsened, and he developed hypertension, a speeding heart rate and a fever. His blood pressure shot up, and he became feverish. A tube was placed down his windpipe and he was hooked up to a machine that helped his breathing. On day 47, he was moved out of the ICU and into an intermediate care unit at the hospital. The inpatient charges totaled $811,929 (excluding air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation, and ambulatory follow-up costs). It's unclear from the report who covered his hospital expenses. It wasn't until a month after rehabilitation that the child was once again able to walk and run without assistance. "The complex and prolonged care led to the high treatment cost".
The only way to protect yourself is through five doses of a vaccination.
Tetanus is caused by infection with the Clostridium tetani bacterium.
In this particular case, however, the boy had not received his tetanus vaccine, or any other recommended vaccinations for that matter. Booster shots are recommended every 10 years through adulthood. A similar law in Washington state has led to a measles outbreak that has sickened at least 75 people, majority unvaccinated children. The boy's family did not vaccinate him before the incident and refused doctors' counsel to vaccinate him after he recovered, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Facebook itself announced Thursday that it is using vaccine hoaxes identified by the World Health Organization, the CDC and other global organizations to address inaccurate information plaguing the site. Measles is also preventable with a vaccination. "Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease - it now prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved".