-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- While a tetanus shot can
shield Americans from the potentially fatal infection, sporadic
cases do still occur among those who went unvaccinated, the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
Tetanus is a rare but potentially deadly disease caused by the
Clostridium tetani bacteria, which is found in soil and
animal excrement. Since 1947, reported cases of tetanus in the
United States have fallen more than 95 percent, and tetanus deaths
have decreased 99 percent, according to the study.
Nevertheless, according to data from the National Notifiable
Diseases Surveillance System, there were 233 cases of tetanus
(lockjaw) reported in the United States between 2001 and 2008. The
death rate was 13.2 percent in the 197 cases with known outcomes,
the CDC said.
The risk of death was highest among people older than 65,
diabetics, and those who hadn't been vaccinated or didn't have
up-to-date vaccinations, said the researchers.
"Sporadic cases in adults still occur, especially in those not vaccinated during childhood," the researchers said.
Vaccination can prevent tetanus, and health care providers
should ensure that all their patients, especially those older than
65 and those with diabetes, have up-to-date vaccinations, the
A complete vaccine series should be given to children at ages 2,
4, 6, 18 months and at 4 to 6 years. A booster dose is needed when
children are 11 to 12 years old and every 10 years after that, said
the study authors.
The findings appear in the April 1 issue of
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The Immunization Action Coalition has more about
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