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The Dangers of Being Crafty – Toes, Tetanus and Timing

Posted Aug 24 2008 6:00pm

I’ve been offline for quite awhile this week…recuperating. Why? Well, in an attempt to avoid junky party favors for my son’s birthday party last month, I made capes for the guests…using a needle and thread. One of the needles was a looong embroidery needle.

It ended up in my foot. Five weeks later! Broken off and removed from the top as opposed to the bottom where it went in. (No more details…too gory!)

Sigh. Note to self: Keep sewing supplies out of the bedroom.

It was interesting for me to note that, all of my crunchy friends urged a quick visit to the emergency room and a tetanus shot…ASAP. These are my friends who do not vaccinate their children and avoid medications as much as possible.

But, this time, no waffling around, “Get that shot!” they said.

So, of course, now I need to check out what exactly is in a tetanus shot.(I did get it, incidentally so my analysis is a little after the fact.)

To my dismay, I read here that a tetanus shot doesn’t guarantee that I won’t get tetanus. And, of course, a deep puncture wound

(which is what I managed to acquire) is the type of wound most likely to develop tetanus. Sigh.

It is an article of faith, widely accepted by doctors and patients alike, that tetanus is almost invariably fatal, especially if the person is not vaccinated. Before I knew better, and because the "standard of care" dictates that every cut gets a tetanus shot, I handed these shots out like candy, believing it was better to "over protect" than to risk the development of a "fatal" case of tetanus.

Hmmm…I’m not sure of the credentials of the author but this sure sounds like modern medicine.So, I checked out what the FDA had to say .

Tetanus is an acute, often fatal disease that occurs worldwide. It affects the central nervous system, producing both … stiffness or muscular rigidity …and convulsive muscle spasm.


But then I found a little more interesting information that makes me wonder why I bothered.

1) Scientific evidence shows that too frequent tetanus boosters actually may interfere with the immune reaction.

2) There has been a gradual retreat of even the most conservative authorities from giving tetanus boosters every one year to every two years to every five years to every 10 years (as now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics), and according to some, every 20 years. All these numbers are based on guesses rather than on hard scientific evidence.

3) There has been a growing recognition that no controlled scientific study (in which half the patients were given the vaccine and the other half were given injections of sterile water) has ever been carried out to prove the safety and effectiveness of the tetanus vaccine. Evidence for the vaccine comes from epidemiologic studies which are by nature controversial and which do not satisfy the criteria for scientific proof.

4) The tetanus vaccine over the decades has been progressively weakened in order to reduce the considerable reaction (fever and swelling) it used to cause. Accompanying this reduction in reactivity has been a concomitant reduction in antigenicity (the ability to confer protection). Therefore, there is a good chance that today’ s tetanus vaccine is about as effective as tap water.

Why do I bother looking this stuff up!

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