Skip to comments.The Claim: Stepping on a Rusty Nail Can Cause Tetanus
Posted on 02/22/2005 6:15:55 PM PST by neverdem
THE FACTS Any 10-year-old can explain the link between rusty nails and tetanus. But few people realize that the bacteria that cause it are widespread and that the disease has less to do with rust than with the nature of a wound.
Clostridia bacteria, the family of C. tetani, can be found in soil, dust, feces and on the skin. They reproduce only in the absence of oxygen, so any wound deep enough can become a breeding ground.
A rusty nail will do. But the infection can come from many sources - sewing needles, animal bites, gardening tools, splinters. Injuries that create dead skin, like burns and frostbite, can also lead to infection.
The symptoms can be severe. Once the bacteria get underneath the skin, they produce toxins that attack the central nervous system, causing spasms and muscle rigidity all over the body, most frequently in the face. About a quarter of the estimated 50 to 100 Americans who contract the disease each year die.
Although the tetanus vaccine is routinely given to children, its effects wear off after 10 years, and many people fail to get boosters.
THE BOTTOM LINE Any object, rusty or not, that punctures or damages the skin can lead to tetanus.
My mom lied to me all these years? How dare she!
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
My grandma got it back in the sixties after stabbing herself with a sewing needle...and lived through it.
I thought it was viral, but no biggie.
The article is true, the tetanus needs to get deep in the body, the reason for the nail deal is that it puts it right into a muscle.
If you ever get injectible penicillin, you need to inject it into a muscle.
If you stay awake at night having nightmares about tetanus, you can go to your local famr supply and buy Tetanus Antitoxin, Fort Dodge, (for veterinary uses only)
My Grandfather was a baker and owned a bakery. He cut his finger and didn't go to the hospital for a tetanus shot. Died five days later. The knife wasn't rusty but no matter.
Don't go swimming after eating ....
A fellow I used to go fishing with cut himself bad, didn't phase him at all.
Quite a few years ago, he started feeling like crap. Went to the doc, doc gave him some antibiotics and sent him home.
About two days later, my buddy is in the emergency ward, they promptly admitted him. Nobody could figure out what it was.
Some doc was visiting from South Korea and looks into my friends room, and starts screaming in Korean.
My friend recovered and has lifelong immunity.
Never found out exactly how he got it, either. He might have inhaled it.
Give this doc a green card!
Don't gripe unless she ever made you soak your foot in kerosene afterward.:)
Clostridium. But another species of Clostridium causes gas gangrene and another causes botulism. Bad genus of organisms.
Used to be viruses were the real nasties.
But these days, there's some new little buggers coming down the pipe that are downright rude.
MSRA staph, some other unwelcome types.
I read a bit about resistant organisms once. It talked about some hospital room, I seem to remember Chicago, where this white stuff started growing on the wall.
They tried all sorts of stuff. Straight Clorox type, peroxide, whatever they use. Actually thought they had it killed off a couple times, but it just kept coming back.
The solution was to back up a truck and fill the whole room. With concrete.
Another one, C. dificil, eats out the gut. Lots of people die from it, in hospitals, though it is sometimes curable...
Did they try a paste of 20 Mule Team Borax?
Actually, I think the boron atoms inhibit mold, maybe mildew.
And then there was that black growth in Mir that was growing on, or eating the titanium...
I remember the Mir stuff. Did they ever bring any back?
Correct. I was in a hurry and just put in what I thought folks had heard of.
Right. It's MRSA, however, not MSRA. Methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus. Big, bad problem. And not only in hospitals. Some nursing homes are real problems.
My granddaughter went to the doc for a bite on a finger from a horse. Doc recommended tetanus. Daughter called U of Iowa Vet school who said horses immunized against tetanus cannot be carriers. Daughter advises Doc who, in checking her own sources, agreed. This was more than a little discouraging.
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