Post-Tsunami Tetanus
Breaks Out In Indonesia

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
It is imperative to get people out of the camps and quickly back into individual houses. A real risk will be contagious disease and vectored diseases. People have a better chance at health if they are out of the stressful camp life and back into domestic life.
Tetanus emerges in an unvaccinated population due to scratches, scrapes and cuts caused by the survivors' fight for life against the tsunami.
I would think that the globall aid workers would be sure to have tetanus globulin as part of the medications to be provided.
Patricia Doyle
Indonesia Hit By Tetanus Outbreak SAPA
A tetanus outbreak is killing Indonesians who survived last week's tsunamis, as many had not been immunized against the potentially fatal infection, a South African humanitarian organisation said on Wed, 5 Jan 2005.
"There is a full-blown outbreak and people have started to die," said Global Relief spokesperson Murray Louw in a statement.
The organization said 12 of their volunteers, including doctors, nurses, engineers and search and rescue personnel, arrived in Indonesia's Banda Aceh on Sun, 2 Jan 2005, near the epicentre of the earthquake which caused the tsunamis.
Louw said tetanus can infect even minor cuts and scratches. Symptoms of the infection include muscle rigidity and spasms, particularly of the face and jaw, hence its common name, lockjaw.
Global Relief is to send another team to Indonesia while other teams are to leave South Africa for Sri Lanka and India in the coming weeks.
The scope of this reported outbreak is not stated, and ProMED would appreciate more information.
Indeed, it is not surprising that tetanus would occur after the tsunami, given the number of injuries. Although the lay public tends to associate tetanus with injuries such as stepping on a rusty nail, the injury itself can be quite minor, and no signs of local infection or injury may be present. The disease tetanus is caused by tetanus toxoid by _Clostridium tetani_. Universal immunization with the toxoid in early childhood will prevent the disease, and boosters are recommended once per decade after the primary series. Postinjury prophylaxis uses tetanus immunoglobulin and tetanus toxoid booster. In a mass injury situation, this is difficult to accomplish. - Mod.LL
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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