‘Patriotic tetanus’ also a historical summertime worry
Fireworks at home always carry the potential for danger and/or injury. In fact, six of 10 fireworks-related injuries occur on or around July Fourth. However, as recently as the early 1900s, the Fourth of July and the fireworks it entailed also led to an increase in a vaccine-preventable disease. In the United States, tetanus cases on and around July Fourth would outnumber the total number of cases during the rest of the year. The Independence Day-related tetanus outbreaks were so consistent they were often referred to as “patriotic tetanus.”
Tetanus is unique among vaccine-preventable diseases because it is not spread from person to person. Instead, the spores of the bacterium live in the soil and enter the body through broken skin, such as punctures or wounds. Because fireworks often led to injuries and sent spore-containing dirt and shrapnel flying, bystanders were sometimes infected. Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, creates a toxin that causes intense muscle spasms and, if untreated, kills about 9 of 10 victims. Luckily, with the advent, first of tetanus antitoxin, and then eventually a tetanus vaccine, the phenomenon faded. In the U.S., routine vaccination and booster dosing prevent tetanus.
Dr. Offit talks on “Misinformation and ‘Bad Advice’” on NPR podcast
VEC Director Dr. Paul Offit was recently a guest on the National Public Radio program On Point, where he discussed “Battling Misinformation and ‘Bad Advice’ About Science and Your Health.” Dr. Offit talked about the challenges of finding accurate, science-based information in today’s culture and about his newest book, Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information, which describes his experiences educating about vaccines.
Measles vaccine recommended for World Cup attendees
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is in full swing, with teams and spectators from around the world hoping to catch the next piece of soccer history. The World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged World Cup spectators to confirm their measles immunity before traveling to Russia, the tournament’s host country. Like much of Europe, Russia has been experiencing measles outbreaks, with more than 800 cases reported by the end of May 2018.