After Painful Ordeal and $800K Medical Bill, Unvaccinated Boy Survives Tetanus

After Painful Ordeal and $800K Medical Bill, Unvaccinated Boy Survives Tetanus

The report, authored by doctors at Oregon Health and Science University and the Oregon Health Authority, states the child, a 6-year-old boy, was playing outdoors at a farm when he sustained a forehead laceration.

His mom and dad cleaned the wound and stitched him up, but the injury led to the boy developing the bacterial infection.

An unvaccinated OR boy who spent eight weeks in intensive care and nearly died after contracting tetanus was cared for by a medical team of more than 100 people.

Tetanus is caused by infection with the Clostridium tetani bacterium.

Still at home, "he had episodes of crying, jaw clenching, and involuntary upper extremity muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back", his doctors reported.

That was when his parents called called emergency services and the child was airlifted to a pediatric centre.

At the hospital, the boy developed jaw muscle spasms - one of the primary symptoms of tetanus, and from which the disease draws its more common name: lockjaw. He was alert and even requested for water. Some of his muscles necessary for breathing also started spasming, throwing the boy into respiratory distress.

They put him in a darkened room with earplugs in because any type of stimulation - light, sound, or movement - made his muscle spasms worse. A family paid almost a million dollars in medical bills after an unvaccinated boy from OR suffered from Tetanus. Still, his condition worsened. He had severe fevers and his blood pressure and heart rate rose to risky levels.

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Doctors gave him the first of the recommended two-dose DTaP vaccine, and treated the boy with "neuromuscular blockade" therapy to help ease spasms. He was on a ventilator for the majority of the time, and he also had a tracheostomy.

The boy stayed like this for 35 days.

Once the boy had recovered, his doctors recommended that he receive a follow-up shot to strengthen the dose of the vaccine he'd received in the hospital. On day 47, he was moved out of the ICU and into an intermediate care unit at the hospital. It wasn't until a month after rehabilitation that the child was once again able to walk and run without assistance.

On day 57, he was transferred to a rehabilitation centre for 17 days.

In total the boy was sedated for weeks, with 44 days spent attached to a ventilator. And it took another month after his rehab before he was back to his old activities, including running and riding a bike.

"The cost of one DTaP [diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine] dose is somewhere around $24 to $30 a dose, and this could have been prevented with five doses of DTaP vaccine", said Guzman-Cottrill. The entire bill came to a whopping $811,929.

This case was particularly worrying for disease prevention experts not only in OR, but across the country, as tetanus has remained more OR less unheard of since vaccines were made available to everyone back in the 1940s. At the same time, he was given the tetanus vaccine and antibodies to fight off the bacteria.

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. The health agency said teenagers should get another booster shot at age 14 to 16.

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