There you are, out in your yard, gardening away. You just planted a shrub and grab your shovel to head to a new location where you intend to plant the sister shrub. Life is good. You push the shovel into the dirt and reach down to remove a root when it happens. It wasn’t a root, it was a piece of old barbed wire, and you are bleeding.
Slam down the shovel, maybe cuss a little, and shake your hand. Wow that hurt, but it looks okay now, so you keep gardening. I have done the same thing. Happens all the time here because people have been careless with pieces of wire, old nails, even sections of rusted tin roof. We tend to be very cavalier about these small cuts and scratches.
Bad idea. Although we hear little about it in the States, tetanus is a serious, disease with a 30 percent mortality rate. In addition to that classic rusty nail, tetanus can be contracted through animal bites and burns or unsterile needles. The bacterium that causes tetanus is found in dirt, dust, and animal feces. It attacks the nerves causing severe spasms that can paralyze the lungs.
It is also totally preventable.
So, when did you have your last tetanus shot? All gardeners need one, especially here. A lot of people think that the vaccination they had as a child protects them forever, but it doesn’t. I don’t usually include long quotes in this column, but here is one from www.medicinenet.com:
“If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster, contact your doctor to bring your immunizations up to date. A booster vaccination is also recommended if you sustain a deep, contaminated wound and more than five years have passed since the last dose, since protective antibody levels may fall after five years in some people. You should also receive a series of three tetanus immunizations if you did not receive the childhood vaccine.”
Need more convincing? Try http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/submenus/sub_tetanus.htm, www.mayoclinic.org, or the World Health Organization.
Okay, I don’t like shots any more than you do, but my tetanus vaccination is up-to-date. Is yours?