But a new report out of OR highlights another disease that's been pretty much eliminated thanks to modern-day vaccines-until, that is, those vaccines don't get administered.
An unvaccinated 6-year-old OR boy was hospitalized for two months after he contracted tetanus following an injury on a farm, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment to save his life. Seventy people in southwest Washington, a lot of them unvaccinated children, have been diagnosed with the highly contagious viral illness since January 1, as well as a handful of people in Portland, Oregon.
The report said the boy was playing outdoors on a farm when he cut his forehead in 2017.
The boy would have symptoms including jaw clenching, involuntary upper extremity muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back and difficulty breathing. The child was soon rushed to the emergency services where he was airlifted to a local medical centre.
When the boy arrived at the hospital, he still had jaw spasms. But after six days, he was being treated for tetanus, an enormously painful, sometimes fatal infection that is caused by bacterial spores found in the soil and that is completely preventable with vaccine.
After the boy was diagnosed, treatment began.
After the incident, the child was "cleaned and sutured at home".
"The patient was in the intensive care unit, in critical condition, for over six weeks", Guzman-Cottrill said.
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To control his spasms, the child was set up in darkened room with ear plugs and minimal stimulation. "The opisthotonus (severe muscle spasms) would worsen with any stimulation". Three days later he was able to walk 20 feet-but he needed assistance. On day 54, his tracheostomy was removed, and 3 days later, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center for 17 days.
Luckily, the boy made a full recovery. And it took another month after his rehab before he was back to his old activities, including running and riding a bike.
The family's total charges for the hospital stay were $811,929, not including air transportation, rehabilitation and follow-up costs, per the report, which noted the average pediatric hospitalization in the U.S.in 2012 cost $11,143.
Vaccination against tetanus is incorporated in a DTaP (diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis) series, given in five doses at different ages.
While doctors gave the boy an emergency dose of tetanus vaccine when he was brought to the hospital, his parents elected not to give him a second dose, or any other recommended vaccinations, before their child left inpatient care. CDC states that those who do not have insurance to cover the immunization expenses may avail of the vaccine for free via the Vaccine for Children program.
"Thus, routine vaccination for all, plus boosters, are very important to prevent disease", lead author Judith Guzman-Cottrill told Gizmodo. At the same time, he was given the tetanus vaccine and antibodies to fight off the bacteria. The bacteria often enter the body through wounds contaminated with dirt, feces, or saliva, or wounds caused by an object-like a nail or a needle-puncturing the skin.
The boy was Oregon's first case of tetanus in nearly 30 years, according to the CDC, citing the Oregon Health Authority. Today, only about 30 cases are reported every year.
Total health care costs of adult tetanus cases may range from $22,229 to $1,024,672.
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