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Anti-vaxxer questions medical treatment of tetanus patient

PREVENTABLE: A child has been taken to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in a critical condition after being diagnosed with tetanus at Lismore Base Hospital.
PREVENTABLE: A child has been taken to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in a critical condition after being diagnosed with tetanus at Lismore Base Hospital. Cathy Adams

MONDAY 6pm: VACCINATION critics have questioned the medical care given to a seven year old girl prior to the tetanus being diagnosed at LBH.

In a statement, the Northern NSW Local Heath District said clinicians and nursing staff were trained in, and had access to, the latest clinical protocols for treatment and control of vaccine-preventable diseases, including tetanus.

The Federal Department of Health recommended treating unvaccinated patients with tetanus-prone wounds using immunisation, and tetanus immunoglobulin - which offers only short term protection.

Controversial anti-vaxxer, Meryl Dorey claimed in a blog post the diagnosis was "a case of medical negligence based on ignorance of the symptoms ... and potentially incorrect or incomplete cleaning of the child's wound in the first instance".

Lismore pediatrician Chris Ingall, who treated the girl at LBH in the critical stages, said there was "limited value" in wound cleaning and "vaccination is key" to preventing tetanus.

"There is no amount of antibiotic or cleansing that will rid (the body) of the (tetanus) infection," Dr Ingall said.

Despite repeated requests, NSW Heath declined to comment whether the girl was offered either treatment, immunisation or tetanus immunoglobulin, when her wound was initially treated at Nimbin hospital.

 

MONDAY 10am: A NORTH Coast girl fighting tetanus is now in a stable condition in a Brisbane Hospital.

Queensland Health said the girl, 7 remains in the intensive care unit at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.

The girl was transferred to Brisbane from Lismore Base Hospital in a critical condition on Wednesday following the diagnosis of the rare disease, which is preventable by vaccine.

 

FRIDAY 12.28pm: A LISMORE pediatrician, Dr Chris Ingall, told ABC North Coast the child who is in a critical condition after being diagnosed with tetanus was not immunised. 

The ABC reported Dr Ingall treated the girl, and said he had seen a number of cases while working overseas, but cases in Australia were rare.

"It's just awful, it's so unnecessary that any child should have to go through this," he said.

 

FRIDAY 9.54am: MEDICAL experts are urging families to vaccinate after a seven-year-old child was diagnosed with tetanus on the Northern Rivers.

The Northern NSW Local Health District confirmed the child was transferred from Lismore Base Hospital to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane in a critical condition on Wednesday following the diagnosis.

Assistant Director of Public Heath North Coast, Greg Bell described the case as "a sad state of affairs" as the disease has been preventable by immunisation for decades.

"It highlights the fact that in this day and age someone in our area can contract tetanus," Mr Bell said.

"The fact is that this condition is something that has been preventable for years, it would have stopped the pain and the anguish this particular patient has gone through.

"Please look at vaccination of your young ones."

Mr Bell said since 2003 there have been about three cases of tetanus on the North Coast mainly in older people.

He said the prevalence of preventable diseases in young people, especially children, is "a huge concern" and "a real big threat" for public health.

"The idea of people not needing vaccination and we can make our way through with our own healthy living and bodies it just doesn't wash," Mr Bell said.

The bacteria which causes tetanus is present in garden soils, dust and certain types of manure that can heighten the risk of contacting the disease in unvaccinated people.

Mr Bell acknowledged "pockets within the North Coast where vaccination rates are very low" and implored people in those areas to seriously consider immunising themselves and their children.

"This has a two fold affect, it can affect the individuals the people who live in that area and it can also affect people in the community," he said.

He encouraged the community to refer to scientific data proving the benefits of vaccination as well as historical facts.

Mr Bell reflected on eras where preventable diseases such as tetanus "were ripe" and when they took the lives of young and old.

To discuss concerns about immunisations, call the Public Health unit on 1300 066 055.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus, also known as lock-jaw, is a disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani.

Toxin made by the bacteria attacks a person's nervous system and can be fatal. The disease is preventable by vaccination.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms of tetanus include:

  • painful muscle spasms that begin in the jaw (lock jaw)
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • violent generalised muscle spasms
  • convulsions
  • breathing difficulties

Topics:  editors picks northern nsw local health district northern rivers health nsw health tetanus vaccinations


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