Tetanus? Schmetanus!!!

Part of the anti-vaccine movement’s strength is that the majority of diseases we vaccinate for are thankfully rare these days. So it’s easy for them to say “Oh! That thing? Yeah it’s harmless! Proper diet and cleanliness is what you need! Not those doctors and their knives! Bloody scaremongerers! Don’t you know they are rich! Rich people are all evil!”

Doctors are rich because the job is

1. Stressful

2. High Responsibility

3. Detrimental to the health of the doctor

4. Difficult

Anyone can be a doctor, but not everyone is willing to make the sacrifices needed. And for that we have professionalised medicine. Is it just me or does the idea of an amateur self taught “doctor” seem detrimental to the health of our patients?

To see this article on the Truth about Tetanus doing the rounds makes me worry that there are amateur doctors out there.

I’ve wanted to write a blog on tetanus for awhile now. I’m so sad every time a parent contacts me, because their child was given the DPT or DTaP vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis) after a visit to the ER for stepping on a nail or anything that resembles a cut, scrape, or puncture wound.  Just recently a very good friend contacted me in the middle of the night. She was so concerned over her young son receiving DTaP in the hospital that night. They didn’t want him to receive the 3 in 1 shot, but they were scared about tetanus, because he had stepped on a nail that day. So the young boy received the vaccine.

The tetanus toxoid shot is one of the most common vaccines given out as most of us will remember that children play outside.

A word on this and risk.

We live in a world clouded by fear, some say that our innocence in the UK about our children died the day the serial killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady made the news. In the quiet north of ex-factory workers who considered themselves as nothing but hard working folk came such psychopathy and such evil that we felt a wake up call. The monsters under our children’s beds became the monsters lurking in vans.

So we had a generation that grew up frightened of the outdoors because of the monsters that lurked there. The very real witches who may not live in gingerbread houses but who do spirit away little boys and little girls… And we had a generation that lost that thrill of being a kid with hijinks.

Did you know that after watching rear window with my cousin, we thought his neighbour had buried his wife because he was digging. So we got together with friends, climbed fences and hid in hedgerows trying to “spy on the murderer”. Because we were fucking 10 year olds! Because we thought that the world genuinely worked like that and that farmers had no need to dig stuff up! We didn’t get caught but the farmer years down the line told us he had seen us hiding in the hedge (since 10 year old boys and girls are terrible at sneaking about). He wanted to know what we were doing that day, and ten years later we told him and his wife the story. They thought we were hilarious.

I think all kids should have stories of adventures like this. The risks of broken bones and scraped knees and in one case a slight electrocution courtesy of a cattle fence are acceptable in giving children the experience of life. And one of the things that helped this kind of youth was the tetanus vaccine. All the little bumps and scrapes and stitches became badges of honour rather than potential life threatening instances.

Don’t deny children the experience of childhood.

Oh and I suppose I should say something about this paragraph.

If the people you ask medical advice from are not doctors and you are at a hospital then you are a goddamn moron. You wouldn’t dare call up your best mate and ask him for advice on fixing your boiler instead of a qualified person.Then why on earth would you call your mate and ask him for advice on the treatment of your child rather than a qualified person?

There is a notion that the mere act of successful coitus gives parents the ability to understand how their child functions on a fundamental level which is clearly untrue. The act of owning a computer doesn’t make me capable of coding software. I have a pet dog, it doesn’t mean I know more than a vet. This usually manifests as “Speaking as a Mother” which is a statement that rings alarm bells the moment I hear it.

Yes they were scared of tetanus. You don’t faff around with a disease called lockjaw. As you should be. Tetanus kills and kills with ease and panache and style. As diseases go it’s an elegant tough bastard of a disease. It’s pathogen is nearly everywhere, doesn’t need oxygen and produces a toxin so virulently deadly that even a small quantity is capable of killing us. By small I mean that <2.5 nanograms is lethal to 50% of unvaccinated individuals. A nanogram is 1 billionth of a gram. It is a miniscule amount.

Fear is such a strong motivator for vaccines.

I know many families that don’t vaccinate, but they are still very fearful about tetanus and say that they might probably choose the tetanus vaccine if their child happened to step on a rusty nail.

Fear does that to people.

No, common sense does that to people. Because people remember that Tetanus may be somewhat deadlier than Measles (on a grand scale though? Measles is still a real killer.). Before we begin, I urge you to read my primer on Tetanus (I understand this is gigantic as it is without lumping that in, but it is important to understand about a disease before we discuss why this article is so wrong).

Most parents want to know why a child just can’t receive a tetanus vaccine? Why do they have to receive diphtheria and pertussis too? Why is tetanus given as a 3 in 1 shot? Does stepping on a rusty nail really warrant a tetanus vaccine?

Because Diptheria is also a deadly disease with high mortality and it pays to be safe from it and pertussis is quite horrible to infants who are protected by the herd immunity.

Tetanus toxoid’s initial dose is a 3 in 1 shot and many anti-vax don’t do the initial childhood vaccines and so must begin with the initial dose rather than the boosters.

And yes stepping on a rusty nail or indeed any injury that results in penetration of skin or contact with surfaces warrants the vaccine in the same way that getting bitten by a wild animal warrants a course of rabies vaccines.

And this is my hypothetical question that I have always wanted answered:  Why is it ok to give a child the tetanus vaccine (in the form of DTaP) at, say, their 1 year “well baby” visit, but only 2 weeks later, when they unexpectedly end up in the ER with an open would, the child is automatically given another tetanus booster (in the form of another DTaP)? How is this ok? And how does this make sense?

Because it’s standard protocol and because in ER situations parents are often not rational and often provide incorrect information.

In a litigious society a doctor must protect his livelihood as must hospitals so it is in the doctor’s best interest to vaccinate. It is in the patient’s best interest to vaccinate too.

In an ER situation there is insufficient time to go through the veracity of vaccinations as treatment time is rapid so the vaccine is given. It is a waste of resource, space and time to keep an infant in an ER situation waiting while you confirm a patient’s vaccine history. It is a safer bet to vaccinate and be safe rather than guess the “Wrong” way and be liable.

“Where are all the rusty nails?”

“You mean the rusty nails that actually have bacteria from cow manure on them? The ones that SOOooooo many children seem to be stepping on every year? Gee… we don’t know Tex. But if they are such a huge threat – then why don’t they offer the Tetanus vaccine WITHOUT the Diptheria and Pertussis for parents who might consider getting THAT vaccine if they don’t want the combo? Combo or singular- vaccines cause damage. Rusty nails are a FAR lesser threat than the aluminum and formaldehyde, and monkey DNA and aborted fetal tissue DNA and neurotoxins that make up these vaccines”

Clostridium Tetani is passed through a variety of animal’s faecal matter.

Including your own. Or your dogs.

We say “rusted nail” because it’s the most common of these sort of injuries. Nails are common enough in our world and a lot of them are “jutting out” and can easily tear the skin.

This paragraph is a quote from a “so called Thinking Mom”. People say “how can you be so cruel to mothers and women Avi! Aren’t you a feminist” to which I respond with “Feminism doesn’t mean women get a free ride to say nonsensical things and be take as a serious stance”.. If a woman were to say that her stance as a mother means the moon is made out cheese we would call her an idiot.. Why must evidence based medicine not be given the same intellectual rigour?

Any open injury that requires sutures is a deep wound through which C. Tetani can possibly invade. Any outside surface is a possible contaminant. Are you sure your child didn’t touch the wound after being hurt? Are you sure your child has not touched the ground in the past few hours or even days? Clostridium Tetani forms spores which make it very hard to kill even with soap. Has the child’s clothes ever touched the ground? No/ Really? Are you honestly saying that your toddler doesn’t roll around on the floor in sheer pleasure of rolling around on the floor? On the floor that you walk on with your shoes that have been in the mud?

Sometimes the C. Tetani is not on the object but on the skin or the clothes.

As for the reason why the booster contains diptheria? Because diptheria is a terrible disease and this booster of Td provides a modiicum of protection against it.

Diptheria has a mortality rate of 20% and is an airborne disease so no amount of clean air and sewage and healthy eating will stop it. The vaccine was developed in the 1920s, there were more than 175,000 cases a year on average in the United States. By contrast, no U.S. cases have been reported since 2003. That’s around 35,000 deaths per year prevented by the disease per 100 million people. Today? If we had the same rate of infection (mortality once was 75% but the introduction of the anti-diptheria toxoid helped drop that in the 1890s) which there is no reason we shouldn’t since the disease isn’t spread by a vector we can control (the air) then we would have 105,000 deaths per year. (Since the current US population is 300,000,00 rather than 100,000,000).

What ensues here is the certainty of ignorance.

Aluminium Hydoxide is dangerous! (The main content of pepto bismol and indeed the drug of choice for controlling heartburn and peptic ulcer symptoms) If aluminium hydroxide can be referred to as elemental aluminium then table salt is sodium AND chlorine! As for water? Are you insane! That’s 66% by molecular number Hydrogen! And 33% oxygen (rounding down)! That mixture is explosive! Those fire fighters are fools! FOOLS I TELL YOU! Spraying water to put out fires! That’s madness!

Formaldehyde? You consume more formaldehyde in some fruit such as pears and formaldehyde produced by your body is a precursor of DNA. The amount in a vaccine is a trace compared to the amount that goes into making “you”. And I myself have been exposed to billions of times greater concentrations of formaldehyde since it’s used to preserve cadavers and to clean operating theatres. It’s also in your perfumes that you so greedily inhale yet we don’t see a drive to ban Paco Rabanne. And it’s in your DIY, all methylated spirits are processed by our body to form formaldehyde. Now don’t get me wrong, formaldehyde is bad for you if you are exposed to too much. So is water.

And last but not least. Neurotoxins. This is a reference to thimerosal and “the dreaded spectre of mercury”. In a simple rebuttal? 7 out of the 8 Tetanus vaccines in use in the USA are thimerosal free and the only thing that, that’s achieved is made it harder to store vaccines and increased profit through wastages. Secondly? Thimerosal has not been linked to any such issues as claimed by anti-vaccination groups in the concentrations used in a vaccine (under 30 micrograms). And thirdly, it’s a ethyl mercury compound with a renal clearance (you pee it out) of 95%. That means in every cycle of blood through your kidneys 95% of the current thimerosal in blood is eliminated. In under 10 minutes you will have eliminated more than 95% of the original amount of mercury.

The tetanus toxoid vaccine does contain pieces of a neurotoxin. The total amount of bacteria within you may not be high but C. Tetani produces a deadly toxin called tetanospasmin. The tetanus vaccine targets the toxin rather than the bacteria because the toxin is the pressing concern. For those who didn’t read my primer?

A toxin works in a specific way in our body. It’s structure is vital to it and there are parts of it that are reactive and there are parts that are not. Breaking it apart stops it’s function. This is a vital part of all biological molecules. It’s how neurotransmitters function (they are broken down by enzymes after they trigger a nerve). It’s how a variety of diseases occur such as Sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia where the change is a single amino acid resulting in such spectacular changes to the function of a protein.

To break up a toxin into pieces makes them toxoids. These building blocks are individually recognised by our immune system and since they make up the toxin the antibodies that affect them also affect the toxin. The toxin itself is so powerful that it is fatal in doses that would trigger the immune system.

Either the statement by “Tex” the “Thinking Mom” is one made out of ignorance or one made out of malice.

There is a story about a boy from New Zealand almost dying from tetanus that is circulating fb right now. Of course the gist of the story is that he was “unvaccinated”. Many vaccine safety advocate groups say the story is not true. If the story of the boy is true (which I doubt, because the story has a million holes in it), then based on what the parents are quoted saying, I have some major issues:

The majority of people affected by Tetanus in the world are those who were not vaccinated. Vaccination is also linked to severity and vaccinated individuals are more likely to have milder forms of tetanus and survive than the unvaccinated. The boy they are discussing is this case.

Monday Morning Management is great for football matches. Not when you are pretending to be a doctor without the basic knowledge to even discuss the topic.

The story is true, the details that the Anti-Vax are ignoring are telling.

“As soon as they (the doctors) said it was tetanus my other two kids were vaccinated the very next day, against all childhood diseases.”

The kids were vaccinated because the parents had been lied to by a movement that has since betrayed them. The near death and indeed painful disease their son endured means nothing to these anti-vax because the story threatens the delusion. That Tetanus is harmless.

For these parents it was a dreadful shock. They had learned the lesson the hard way. By the sheer havoc a disease can cause. A disease that they were always told was dangerous that they ignored. The parents blame themselves for falling for the variety of arguments the anti-vax make.

They made the choice to not vaccinate and had to be responsible for that choice. With luck and through the skill of the very people demonised by the anti-vax movement their son lived. Not one anti-vax doctor or indeed their homeopaths or chiropractors could have saved this boy.

I couldn’t agree more with a comment I read on the Great Mother’s Questioning Vaccines fb page:

“If this article is in fact true then these parents are very reactionary and motivated purely by fear. They read a few scary stories and decided not to vaccinate then had a scary experience and vaccinated the heck out of all their kids. Not my kind of parenting role models regardless of their stance on vax”

Their son nearly died to a disease the anti-vax claims is harmless. A disease that causes muscle contractions so powerful that you break your own bones. It’s not a “scary” experience. A scary experience is a haunted house or watching the Blair Witch Project or a roller coaster.

This is a life or death situation where a child was hospitalised for weeks in an ICU ward and may have died from his disease.

They are not your parenting role models because (to borrow a common anti-vax phrase) they stopped drinking the kool aid. They stopped believing in the lies perpetrated by the vaccination movement. Rather than examine the flaws in their knowledge the anti-vax movement closed ranks and ostracised these parents for doing what was right and trying to correct a mistake. A mistake where the price wasn’t thankfully not a permanent injury or death.

And for some context?

“As well as Alijah, the Williams have a nine-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, and Ian Williamson says they did their own research and decided not to vaccinate their children.

“My wife was very against it for her own reasons,” he says.

“I have a science degree and my wife since then has got a science degree as a midwife. I was open to both ideas so I looked into it.

“If you google vaccines you get a lot of pros and a lot of cons, and you start to read all the cons and they start to weigh on you and you start to believe all the things that are said.

“It looks like a fifty-fifty argument.”

Williams says that he was influenced by stories he read on the internet that the MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was linked to children developing autism; that they contain mercury and aluminium and that vaccines are promoted by drug companies purely for profit.

“There are a number of myths out there, and it’s really easy to get sucked in.”

“As soon as they said it was tetanus my other two kids were vaccinated the very next day, against all childhood diseases.”

They vaccinated not out of fear but out of realisation that they had listened to people who didn’t know what they were talking about and had paid a horrible price for it.

You can read the original story (HERE) As you read it, it is very obvious this article was a push for vaccines and not really about the boy with tetanus.

Yes. The boy survived his bout with tetanus. The parents realise that they are to blame. The parents also realise that part of the blame lies in the lies perpetrated by the anti-vax movement. It’s a harrowing tale about the fight for their son’s life and the reason he had to fight was a lack of vaccination.

Why shouldn’t they bring it up? The only reason Alijah contracted such a severe version of tetanus was due to his parents believing quacks. Why should they not mention it? Are we to call medical stances on obesity as a health issue fear mongering? Are we to call medical stances on smoking fear mongering too?

There is a push for vaccines because there are children like Alijah belonging to parents who think that tetanus is harmless and that vaccines are dangerous and when sufficient amounts of people believe that, tales like Alijah become more and more common.

I read an article on the Immunization Awareness Society for Informed Choice website today. It breaks the story down (properly) of this boy almost dying from tetanus and gives a very accurate portrayal of what informed consent really looks like in a family that originally choose to not vaccinate.

A fancy name of your organisation doesn’t change the fact that it’s still quackery. Readers beware.

A rough guide to any source. Any source that has the truth in it’s name or it’s description is unlikely to be the truth. I don’t have to label my works as truth to be believed. Science backs me up, reality backs me. And the reality here was that a child nearly died because of ignorance.

A word about responsibility. Do you notice how I don’t give unqualified medical advice? When I wrote about tetanus I didn’t say “Everyone must vaccinate”. There are some people who cannot or who should not vaccinate unless at risk. There are people with allergies and there are people with incompetent immune systems. I take responsibility for my stances.

The Anti-Vax do not. Many anti-vax have given advice to parents that can only be considered as “terrible”. Like treating puncture wounds with soap and lemon juice to kill C. Tetani (A bacteria who’s spores can survive soap, lemon juice, frost and even temperatures above 40C. Formaldehyde doesn’t even kill their spores and neither does hydrochloric acid in the human stomach and we have quacks telling people that lemons kill it. Does that sound like sensible advice?

“… Everybody needs to understand above all else, is that informed consent is not made by listening to conspiracy theories, or emotions and feelings.  Informed decision making is also more than just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an intervention such as vaccination.

Vaccination is not an intervention any more than cooking chicken properly is an intervention or not mixing food with human faeces. It is a medical procedure but so is water purification. It’s just that you don’t need doctors to do it any more.

Most parents who make an informed choice not to vaccinate, will research thoroughly everything they can.  Not just about the diseases, or the vaccines, but what constitutes good health.  These parents do everything to ensure their children remain healthy and happy, and understand the risks involved in ALL the diseases, how to prevent them if possible, how to treat them at home, risk factors for the diseases and complications, and so on.

In the now 2 years (on my third year now!) blogging and since I became active in the skeptical movement I have talked to dozens if not at least a hundred anti-vax who claimed to have done thorough research about vaccines, disease and health. So let’s have a little list shall we.

1. To date only a single anti-vax has been able to explain the human immune system correctly. They did so by copypasta. They explained the human immune system by going to google and typed in “Human Immune System Easy” and took an article they think I hadn’t read. They then pasted it verbatim to me.

2. Every single anti-vax has claimed that they have spent hours learning the subject. As if the hours you spend researching a topic makes you more or less right. The people who invariably claim that they spend hours researching the topic usually cannot explain the first point or if they do they do so incorrectly or in one case simply ignored the entire specific immune system (and then stopped talking to me when I asked them why HIV patients who lack a specific immune system are so prone to disease if the non-specific immune system is better?).

3. By research the anti-vax lobby assumes that reading articles online is considered research on par with medical research and trials.

4. This is without the variety of fallacies that the entire movement relies on.

This indicates that the anti-vax movement relies on empowering parents to ignore basic ideas of common sense. That ignorance of a topic  is lauded and encouraged. The basic anti-vax lacks the basic knowledge to read a medical paper yet they will quote it. To me it’s like seeing a 16 year old produce a medical paper on resveratrol in support for her underage drinking. The paper may say x, y and z but the antivax don’t read it as that. They have a habit of quote mining and quoting papers out of context (see above example).

They don’t see the value of the basics of education and the problem is the difference in level of education on the topic between them and those that argue against them from a professional stand point is so vast that one side cannot grasp the difference as the difference is so vast that it’s unfathomable.

It’s why I wrote the article on immunity, so that at least the parents who are pro-vax will have an article which explains immunology to them in a rough way. It’s why I wrote the tetanus article too. Because we as skeptics must not fall into the same trap as the anti-vax. Where they are so ignorant of the topic they cannot understand why they are ignorant.

Without knowing the basics of immunology, one cannot understand the basics of how vaccines work and how the body fights disease. Since most parents don’t learn that most parents are  easily seduced by “old wives tales” about immunity because in their mind with their knowledge the view of the anti-vax “makes sense”.

And when I write this I am bound to be called a pharma shill so I will admit it right here and now.

I have not received a single dollar, rupee or pound from any organisation that makes medication. The only medical related thing that has provided me with money was one of the sponsors of my new laptop was a company that specialised in medical equipment and optics. So unless you fear “Big Ophthalmology” you should be fine (Everyone must wear glasses! Even if you don’t need it!).

In addition? I am principled enough to be honest about my income. My income on this blog is purely through visits and people who donate. In addition? Pharmaceutical companies don’t “need” to advertise vaccines since not vaccinating your children drums up more income for them.

…parents who make a scientifically informed choice don’t make important health decisions on the basis of conspiracy theories online, or call themselves ‘hippies’, or assume that having a science degree makes them well informed; neither do they suddenly find out they are ignorant the night their child falls ill”
-Immunization Awareness Society for Informed Choice

And with the above statements in mind do you still think that the anti-vax are making scientifically informed choices?

Not all opposing stances are equal. The opposite of NASA isn’t “moon landing hoaxers” or “flat earthers”.

You can read the full article (HERE)

I suppose you should. That way you can keep the words I said in mind.

Anyways, all of this can easily turn into a debate over whether or not the article about the unvaccinated boy is true or not. And really, who cares. This is about tetanus. Learning the truth about tetanus is what is most important.

Yes. It’s more simpler to believe that there is a grandiose lie that a child has a well known disease in a western nation rather than believe that maybe you aren’t as knowledgable as you thought.

So what is Tetanus?

“Tetanus is the name of a sickness you get when the bacterium Clostridium tetani enters your body and flourishes (with a life cycle). The emphasis should be on ‘flourishes’ because Clostridium tetani requires an anaerobic environment. What does this mean? It means for the bacterium to survive, it must be in an environment free of oxygen.

Florid but essentially correcct.

In other words, to get sick with Tetanus, you must get the Clostridium tetani into your body, such as through the infamous example of stepping on a nail. Then you must ensure that the wound does not get oxygenated (does not bleed and is not exposed to air) and you must ensure the bacterium multiplies enough to start a life cycle, because the toxins released when they die is what causes Tetanus symptoms.

An overt simplification. And wrong because of that. This is the thing. It is difficult for me to write these topics because I have to “tone the medicine down” and say things I consider as normal. Even when I wrote the immunity piece I had people telling me that I need to make it simpler and easier to understand.

When a object penetrates the body it goes through layers of tissue. Now anti-vax are depicting the model human as a sort of “bag” of blood. We aren’t that. We are quite the opposite. There are channels for blood to pass through. A ragged injury will penetrate sufficient amounts of arterioles, venules and capillaries to bleed.

However wounds don’t keep bleeding. You eventually have cessation of blood and repair. Repair that needs oxygen and therefore causes a dearth of it in the surrounding tissue. In addition you may have muscle activity which requires oxygen in large amounts. Ever wonder why strenuous activity hurts? Because the total amount of oxygen in your blood may not be sufficient to keep your muscles working in peak order so they function anaerobically producing lactic acid. It’s why sprinters “collapse” after the 100 m (Their muscles function entirely anaerobically) and why we have the wall in distance running (the wall is lactic acid, when the rate of lactic acid clearance exceeds the rate at which we produce it we break through the wall and get our second wind.

Local ischaemic conditions create anaerobic conditions which can activate a handful of C. Tetani. And a handful is all it needs since it’s toxin is so virulent (remember the LD50 is UNDER 2.5 nanograms for a healthy 80 Kg adult male). How much toxin do you think a hundred bacteria can make?

We forget that bacteria are small and exist on molecular scales. They may be in an oxygen rich body but the area they may be in may not have oxygen due to injury. And that can cause anaerobic conditions.

Summary: Tetanus requires a wound that is deep enough and neglected enough to create an anaerobic environment so that the bacteria can flourish, die off and spread a toxin in the body. The incubation period is 3-21 days, the average being 8 days.

The normal healing process creates local anaerobic environments.

The moment you have a cut bleeding begins to cease. During the repair of tissue there is no blood flow to the region due to the clot. That’s the natural cycle of healing. To prove otherwise is to net yourself a Nobel prize and to date not one Anti-Vax has demonstrated that healing works through their magical way (I assume vitamins and magic water is involved).

And what does it mean to ‘oxygenate’? It means to bleed. Blood is oxygenated by passing through the lungs and then flowing through the body to oxygenate all the tissues. That is how we live. We are oxygenated creatures. So if you step on a nail and you bleed, the Clostridium tetani cannot live. In other words, Tetanus is impossible to get if you are alive, pumping blood normally through your body and taking care of the wound.  Feel bamboozled yet?” - Tetanus Vaccination: Fact & Fiction,  read entire article (HERE)

If your body keeps oxygenating wounds you have haemophilia or some other clotting disorder (like Dengue fever).

Remember I said “A Lack of Knowledge and the ignorance of that lack of knowledge” is how anti-vax function. This would make sense to anyone who didn’t think about why we stop bleeding and realised that cessation of bleeding may in fact be “a good thing”.

According to the CDC’s own website: “Tetanus is different from other vaccine-preventable diseases because it does not spread from person to person. The bacteria are usually found in soil, dust and manure and enter the body through breaks in the skin – usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects. Today, tetanus is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 29 reported cases per year from 1996 through 2009″

“Today, tetanus is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 29 reported cases per year from 1996 through 2009″?

Say what?!? Pretty much, the CDC’s own website tells us it’s not common and is found in wounds caused by contaminated objects.

Tetanus the disease is uncommon due to the vaccine. Out of the 30 reported cases roughly 20 cases were unvaccinated and the 9 other cases were people who had lapsed on vaccination. The disease is uncommon for the same reason that tiger attacks in the USA are uncommon. Not because there are no tigers but because there is a barricade protecting you from the tiger (there are more tigers in the USA than in India. As pets…).

The incidence of tetanus had almost completely disappeared by the time vaccines became popular. Tetanus vaccines has been a part of  of mass inoculations since the 1940’s. It’s the T of DPT. Since the 1950’s a child received 4 DPT shots by the time he is 18 months old. Even after that, for life, any time anyone steps on a nail or gets a minor cut, tetanus “boosters” are routinely given. But what sense does it make to pretend to cure a disease that is caused by a puncture would which may have the remotest possibility of containing Clostridium by giving the personanother puncture wound that definitely contains Clostridium, or its byproducts?

Tetanus vaccines began in the 1920s.

Tetanus is one of the biggest killers of infants. It’s mortality rate in newborn is close to 80% and neonatal tetanus is a major problem in the developing world.

The majority of cases of tetanus in the USA were due to unvaccinated mothers giving the disease to their kids.

And again this just demonstrates a (willing) ignorance of how vaccines and indeed the immune system functions.

Another anecdote here. There is an anti-vax “quack” by name of Mayer Eisenstein. He claims to be a doctor. What he is IMHO is a murderer. You see, he doesn’t believe in immunology. He also was a big fan of natural births.

Any readers who are female and Rh-ve blood type who have kids will back me up on this. Chances are the father has Rh+ve blood type. After the birth of the first baby they gave you a shot right? That’s an anti-Rh antibody shot. It’s a vaccine against your own anti-bodies. You see if a Rh-ve mother has a Rh+ve baby, the first baby is healthy. During birth though the baby’s blood crosses the placental barrier and the mother’s immune system picks it up and starts making anti-Rh factor (A Rh-ve mother doesn’t have the rhesus factor so she makes antibodies against it). The second baby gets the antibodies (assuming the same father) and if the baby is Rh+ve the antibodies destroy the baby’s blood. This can lead to severe mental retardation or even death.

Mayer Eisenstein did not do this. Out of the 14 or so malpractice suits (by contrast? The average for Ob/Gynae is 2 and it’s the most litigious of the medical specialities) 2 came to light. One child died another was left mentally retarded due to his ignorance. Mayer is still held up by anti-vax and natural birthers as a “saint” who is martyred to silence him. Rather than someone who killed and maimed children.

When he defended himself his malpractice insurance turned out to be from some shady corporation in Bermuda and his defence consisted of blaming the mother of the dead child for “Murder”. There are more cases pending….

And that is why doctors are educated and the price of thinking like the antii-vax do and practicing medicine. The same logic behind vaccines applies to this case and as an anti-vax doctor he effectively killed a patient through incompetence and a lack of knowledge.

It’s one thing to claim that the vaccine could confer immunity before the injury happened. But to pretend a shot could immunize someone after the infection has occurred trespasses into the realm of superstition. No manufacturer has ever claimed curative powers for any vaccine. They’re preventatives, remember? That’s the whole basis of immunology.

Again, no scientists claim curative value after being infected with Clostridium. Nor do any suggest that a subsequent vaccine would prevent the development of tetanus. Think about it: if you have a disease process already going on, how could adding more of the pathogen or its toxoids to your blood possibly help you? This is pure science fiction” -Dr Tim O’Shea

The Rabies vaccine is given prophylactically.

The Tetanus Toxoid vaccine is given to protect the patient against the effect of tetanus toxoid (read the Idiot’s Guide to Tetanus) rather than against the bacteria. The idea is that the bacteria has a relatively indolent cycle as must anaerobes are retarded in growth by oxygen but the biggest concern is the toxins produced.

The toxins that produce muscle contraction.

Remember what I said about anaerobes and muscle contraction?

There is however a time period. A lag before these bacteria activate and come out of their spores. That lag is the time our body uses to produce the antibodies to their toxin. The toxin is sequestered by antibodies and eaten by  phagocytes which destroy the toxin (they aren’t affected by it. Nerves in your brain are). There is a time period between infection and when you start suffering from a disease and become infective. The vaccine helps during this time period. With an existing vaccination the booster dose comes to play a lot quicker due to the body already recognising it thus preventing the effect of the toxin.

The tetanus toxoid vaccine isn’t an anti-tetanus vaccine but an anti-tetanospasmin vaccine. It’s a vaccine against a poison.

Dr. Tim O’Shea is a quack. He is not a real doctor. He is a chiropracter. A man who’s entire science can be disproven by banging your elbow on the table until you smack your “funny bone” and prove to yourself that “nerve manipulation is a bad idea”. He is a masseuse pretending to be a doctor. My barber is better qualified to treat people than he is.

Man, I can’t wait for the day where I refer to myself as Dr. Avicenna for everything and anything.

And even if he were a real doctor like Mayer Eisenstein doesn’t mean he is correct.

“But what if???”

1. “IF for some reason you and your child’s doctor assess a risk for Tetanus, you have the option of choosing a non-vaccine shot called Tetanus Immunoglobulin or TiG for short. The TiG is an anti-toxin serum, not a vaccine.

IMPORTANT: if you suspect Tetanus, make sure your child gets the TiG shot! Many doctors and nurses sadly are not informed on this issue. They will pressure you to give your child the vaccine instead. Even if you ask for the immunoglobulin, some medical employees might not know what this is or think you are mistaken and assume you want the vaccine. Sometimes they claim to have a “T” only vaccine, which is untrue.

This creates a dangerous situation because the vaccine will not take effect soon enough if your child was exposed to Tetanus, and even if the vaccine did take effect soon enough, vaccines don’t work for everyone. Make sure you see the packaging and/or insert of the immunoglobulin shot to ensure it is the right medication”

Tetanus Toxoid = Vaccine
Tetanus Immunoglobulin = Anti-Toxin

The TiG is not a “shot”. It’s an IV infusion for mild cases of Tetanus and given intra-thecally for serious cases (Through the skull). It’s a temporary anti-tetanus toxoid immunoglobulin or “antibody” produced to treat tetanus. The shot version is for people with incompetent immune systems. It is less effective in people with functional immune systems because it is foreign.

If doctors are giving it as a shot then these doctors know for a fact that this won’t do anything better than the tetanus toxoid  vaccine. Over time the body’s immune system will recognise the antibodies as foreign and destroy them. Which is why it’s given as a continuous infusion in tetanus patients (AKA the body is flooded with so much that it cannot destroy all of it) rather than a single shot.

It supplies passive immunity to those individuals who have low or no immunity to the toxin. The antibodies act to neutralize the free form of the powerful exotoxin produced by this bacterium. This can be made from equine and bovine serum but recently we have been making it using “human” serum.

Equine and Bovine antibodies are made by  vaccinating a horse or a cow and harvesting blood to get the antibodies. Same for human or via Genetically Modified Cells or cell cultures.

It functions in exactly the same way as the vaccine does. Except it provides no long term protection, increased chance of reaction and inferior levels of protection. It’s basically an inferior product used in specific circumstances (patients with weak immune systems).

If you knew anything about the immune system you would be crying at this. Because this person is so ignorant that they are flogging an inferior product with a lower safety profile that’s used to treat people who have underlying conditions by the exact same mechanism of vaccines with no long lasting protection.

2. Cuts, scrapes, nicks, and wounds need to be cleaned. Soap and water go along way.

3. Heat helps to kill tetanus bacteria. A good soak in some Epsom salts to help with wound healing is good.

4. Put hydrogen peroxide, which is H2O2 (extra oxygen) after any significant wound injury. The extra oxygen kills tetanus spores additionally.

Tetanus Spores are immune to all four of those things. Any heat sufficient to destroy tetanus spores is sufficient to cook human flesh. Soap and Water won’t kill spores which are resistant to those things.

The last thing is extra important.

While dilute solutions of hydrogen peroxide were long used for cleaning small surface wounds, studies suggest that hydrogen peroxide is ineffective in treating these wounds, and may increase healing time. While it is an effective cleaning agent, hydrogen peroxide may not actually improve the rate of wound healing when compared to iodine and alcohol. High enough concentrations to provide the antiseptic effect also increase the time of wound healing by damaging human cells. It also increase scarring.

Why do people use it? It looks more spectacular than betadine.

So I repeat. 2 pieces of ineffective  advice and 2 pieces of terrible advice. One of which actually would increase the chance of hypoxic conditions forming.

Also? Oxygen doesn’t kill tetanus spores. The point of the spore form of tetanus is to survive in oxygen.

One of my favorite doctors, Dr. Kurt Perkins says this:

Is a Chiropractor. Not a doctor.


Because no one spreads manure on their fields.

Not only does MISTER Perkins not know anything about medicine but he also knows precious little about gardening or farming or the impatient nature of the bowels of dogs and cats on walks.

HAHA! Sometimes I just love reading things that are humorous and sarcastic, but get the point across almost better than a 125 page article on the history of tetanus. I’ve done that research too. Sometimes, you just need a little Dr. Kurt. Which by the way, if you have not read his article called “My CRYSTAL Clear Stance on Vaccines”, you really should. You can find it (HERE)

It’s bad enough that they don’t understand how vaccines work but to not understand what sarcasm is?

You don’t need 125 pages to explain the History of Tetanus.

In closing… 

images (2)
How did the conventional wisdom of tetanus shots from a dirty rusty nail outdoors where Clostridium may be harbored in animals spoors – how did that idea get transformed to needing tetanus shots after the slightest most antiseptic nick around the house?” -Dr. Tim O’Shea from the book “Vaccination is NOT Immunization”

Tetanus vaccines dropped the rates of tetanus infection in many third world nations in our lifetimes. In 1998 in Uganda, 3,433 tetanus cases were recorded in new-born babies; of these, 2,403 died. After a major public health effort, Uganda in 2011 was certified as having eliminated tetanus.

Tim thinks humans float above the ground rather than stamp their feet everywhere. He also thinks children don’t play in mud that may have had something defaecate on it.

To the anti-vax the 30 or so people who get tetanus is an acceptable loss. To your doctor? It is not. Who do you think cares more about the health of your children? The movement that took the suffering of tetanus in a young child and tried to play it down or the people who saved that child?

Think about it. We aren’t paid per patient. People like Tim are. Whether I see a hundred or one I am going to earn the same pay.

Vaccinate yourself, vaccinate your kids. If you want to learn, learn from scientific sources. Not from people who speak as “parents”. You wouldn’t accept plumbing advice from people speaking as “parents” then why would you accept medical advice from them?

And remember. Chiropractic is to Evidence based Medicine like Toothiologist is to Dentist.


  1. CaitieCat says

    I’m getting a sort of hazy impression here that there’s something you’re opposed to, Avi, but I can’t quite pin it down exactly. You’re so subtle about these things. :)

    (excellent post, nicely fisked)

  2. CaitieCat says

    OMG, I was doing some reading and I discovered the AWFUL TRUTH THEY’VE BEEN HIDING FROM US.

  3. CaitieCat says

    Sorry about that, accidental smack of “Enter” key.

    The awful truth? I’ve just discovered: our schools are giving our kids EXPLOSIVES and POISON GAS for their lunches every day, claiming that they “need” these materials in their bodies to live healthily. I’m sure it’s just a front for the CEOs of Big Sulpha and Big Chlora to make huge money out of our ignorance.


  4. says

    Here are the medical qualifications for the person who wrote the article Truth about tetanus:

    Jessica Gianelloni is married to her husband Rit and together they are raising their 5 young children (ages 7, 6, 5, 4, & 3) Jessica is a former collegiate athlete with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Counseling & Education. Jessica enjoys the balance of both working outside of the home for her family’s business, and staying home with her 4 children. With the birth of her first child came a desire to research vaccines. That research quickly grew into a God-given passion to educate and empower mothers to make informed decisions regarding the health of their children. Jessica is a vaccine awareness activist and daily advocates for families dealing with vaccine injury and vaccine recovery. Jessica spends a lot of her time researching, writing, and blogging about anything health-related; specifically relating to young children. Her dedication to her work is to fulfill Proverbs 31:8.

    Here are the medical qualifications for Guggie Daly, who wrote Tetanus Vaccination: Fact and Fiction:

    I started out sharing on my blog to provide a fresh, evidence-based perspective for today’s parents on a variety of early-childhood topics. This mission has grown to include fellowship, community-building and having fun learning and growing together while we raise our children.

  5. Nathair says

    Doctors are rich because the job is
    1. Stressful
    2. High Responsibility
    3. Detrimental to the health of the doctor
    4. Difficult

    That all seems rather post hoc. Firefighters in America, for example, earn an average of about 50K a year for a stressful, high responsibility, difficult and dangerous job. A family practitioner or psychiatrist, on the other hand, earns about four times that much. For the average orthopedic surgeon it is about fourteen times the average firefighter salary.

    I think there is more going on here, especially as this is very America-specific. America pays its doctors, on average, almost twice what the rest of the industrialized world does. Of course America also charges its medical students vastly more than you find elsewhere. Obviously none of this makes doctors evil but, as I said, there is more going on here than the clear and simple merit-pay system you suggest.

  6. says

    Okay but that’s “America” in the UK the starting salary of a firefighter is just a 1000 pounds less than a doctor and it’s a lot easier plus you are paid overtime. (4 days on, 4 days off vs 5 days on 2 days off).

    I am not American.

    AND Even if I was?

    To train as a doctor you need to start life with around 100,000 dollars of debt, start at 120 hours a week or so and earn “fuck nothing” for doing that. The entire salary structure in the USA is based on “Doctors who make it earn bank” to make up for all the nonsense you have to do training.

    It takes more than 10 years, sometimes 15 years to get to the stage where you are comfortable. I don’t think it takes 10 to 15 years to become a fireman nor does it require the same consistent effort in education.

  7. says

    This usually manifests as “Speaking as a Mother” which is a statement that rings alarm bells the moment I hear it

    Speaking as a mother I am pretty good at judging when I need to take the lil critters to a profesional. That’s something you call experience. It’s no magical manual that got mysteriously downloaded by giving birth.

    And yeah, anti-vaxxers.
    My 2nd cousin’s ex-partner is an anti-vaxxer. The poor children have been more sick than any other children I know, mainly by being denied adequate medical care for diseases like scarlet fever and such.
    Tetanus is the only vaccination they got, because their grandma refused to take them on holiday without it…

  8. Samsara says

    What a rant!!!
    You tell ‘em what for!
    Well, I am a mom & a physician.
    I was born & raised in trippy dippy hippy northern California.
    Back when I was in elementary school in the 1970’s there was a group of ‘hippy’ moms who decided vaccines were an EVIL plot by Big Pharma & Satan & the US gov’t (probably not mutually exclusive in this case)!!!!
    So guess what?
    The hippy moms’ kids came down with PERTUSSIS/WHOOPING COUGH one winter.
    And they ended up in the hospital. (The rest of us unhip ‘vaccinated’ kids either got a mild case or didn’t catch it at all.)
    And 10 of the ‘hippy moms’ children ended up DEAD.
    Well because the ‘hippy moms’ also believed antibiotics were part of the EVIL plot. Another tale of too little too late.
    So anyhooo…
    Recently there was another ‘Whooping Cough/Pertussis’ epidemic in 2010 that left 10 children dead in California.
    Some folks never learn.
    Sad but true, but don’t think it can’t happen to you!

  9. Nathair says

    Okay but that’s “America” in the UK the starting salary of a firefighter is just a 1000 pounds less than a doctor and it’s a lot easier

    Let us be honest, the starting salaries don’t really reflect the average. The average firefighter in the UK earns about £28K. The average doctor in the UK earns about, what, four times that much? As for “easier” I think I’d like to see a few randomly chosen doctors wearing full PPE carrying a pair of coiled 70mm fire hoses up ladders (or, you know, charging headlong into a burning building) before we agree on the definition of “easy job”.

    I am not American.

    AND Even if I was?

    Then I guess I’d want you to explain how the simple merit-pay system you suggest finds so much more relative merit for doctors in the US than for everywhere else (or how Belgium finds so much less) and how doctor’s salaries are so utterly disconnected from the quality of health care. You didn’t mention that you were limiting your remarks exclusively to doctors in the UK.

    To train as a doctor you need to start life with around 100,000 dollars of debt, start at 120 hours a week or so and earn “fuck nothing” for doing that..

    Yeah, that’s part of the “more to it” I was talking about.

    I don’t think it takes 10 to 15 years to become a fireman nor does it require the same consistent effort in education.

    Firefighter. And educational requirements are, again, part of the “more to it”.

    I am not saying that doctors (outside the US) are overpaid or evil or anything like that. I am saying that it is a more complex situation than your explanation suggests.

  10. says

    “I have a science degree”

    So do I, but my mastery of computer science doesn’t qualify me to make executive decisions on vaccination, and my degree in linguistics isn’t a qualification to self-diagnose. That’s why I trust experts who’ve studied the specifics, not just “science.”

  11. leftwingfox says

    Just got my tetanus booster a couple weeks back.

    Splashed smoking hot grease from a cast-iron frying pan across the back of my thumb, all the way up to my elbow. Haven’t had a tetanus booster in more than 10 years, so they gave one to me just to be on the safe side.

    The injection site ended up hurting more than the burn area for a couple days, but far better that than lockjaw.

    Yay, Canada: two trips to the hospital for bandaging, antibiotics, and vaccine. No charge, less than 2 hours from walk-in to walk-out each time.

  12. says

    The hippy moms’ kids came down with PERTUSSIS/WHOOPING COUGH one winter.
    And they ended up in the hospital. (The rest of us unhip ‘vaccinated’ kids either got a mild case or didn’t catch it at all.)
    And 10 of the ‘hippy moms’ children ended up DEAD.

    One of my biggest fears, especially when my second one was a baby was that they’d contract measles from some fucker’s child before they were old enough to be vaccinated.
    Those people are like drunk drivers: they don’t only hurt themselves, they hurt their children and they hurt innocent unrelated people who did everything right and had the misfortune to be at the worng time in the wrong place.

    I’d be happy if people could tone down the “idiot mother hatin'” a bit. Not because I don’t think that these women exist or that I think they are not responsible.
    But it’s easy to use the misogynist tropes against them. It makes this whole thing look like women are especially gullible and stupid while the men are the oh so responsible and sciency when actually women and mothers are simply the ones who have to make all those decisions. they areburdened with the healthcare of the whole family and they are under lots of pressure.
    The amount of bullshit and hurt people fling at you is incredible.

  13. says

    I will point out that the majority of anti-vax I have engaged are women and indeed “mothers” and indeed I have pointed out that the deadliest of the quackery movements is one that’s heavily dominated by women (Natural Birthers).

    I feel this is due to the nature of new mothers banding together making any anti-vax arguments easily spread. In addition I fear this is due to the significant amount of “quack” Birth Classes that exist. This means women are more likely to be targetted. In fact pre-childbearing most women seem to be as skeptical or indeed “have no opinion” as men do.

    There are a number of sites for “Parenting” where the majority of visitors are mothers which are anti-vax or are pro-discussion and treat anti-vax (And indeed natural birth) as an opposing and equal view rather than “one provent to be categorically wrong”.

    It is this reason that I feel women are more prone to being vocal anti-vax than men are despite the fact that the majority of doctors are (today) women.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    There is so much totally wrong information in that woman’s article that I can’t even begin to figure it out.

    To kill Clostridial spores requires an autoclave … a pressure cooker. A warm bath with or without Epsom salts will do nothing to them.

  15. CaitieCat says

    Argh. I wish I had my laptop back. Sorry for the empty comment.

    Worst part is, I’m so annoyed, I can’t even think what I wanted to say. So if you want to delete these two, Avi, by all means please do.

    I need more sleep.

  16. says


    It is this reason that I feel women are more prone to being vocal anti-vax than men are despite the fact that the majority of doctors are (today) women.

    Ypu’re putting the horse before the waggon and you’re missing some of the important factors.
    One is plain and simple probability.
    Women are still by large the ones who need to make those decisions for the family. If 10% of all people making thise decisions end up believing in woo, and 90% of those who have to make them are female, you plain and simply end up with women being those beilieving in bullshit in the large majority.
    Cis en never have to make those decisions about pregnancy and birth. And even after birth those things are simply dumped on the women. No matter whether they believe in woo or not: Ask fathers about the vaccination status of their children and when their check-ups are due and the answer you’ll get is “ask my wife”.
    And then you have power-dynamics.
    Pregnant women are public property. Everybody feels entitled to touch them and tell them exactly what they have to do. Seriously, I had men who were most definetly not Ob/Gyns explain my pregnancy to me when I was 9 months along. They’re scared out of their wits.
    Similar things happen to young mothers. They “band together” because the whole fucking responsibility is dumped on them, everybody having an opinion and a serious amount of blame for whatever they do that they’re simply grateful for the company of other women so they can band together.
    In come the woo-mongerers: They offer support, they are sympathetic, they are comforting. They talk about you being in the centre and everything being allright and what you have.
    Honestly, the idea that Tetanus is no big deal is much more appealing than the idea that you have to save your child from a deadly dissease.
    If you look at the women who fall for that bullshit, look at how society treats them i the first place (I’m talking about your run off the mill well-meaning mother, not about the big names).
    And then something about docters. Better said two points.
    1.) In Germany regular doctors are amongst the biggest woo-peddlers that you have. My GP offers everything from accupuncture to homeopathy, often paid for by public healthcare. Several pediatricians handed me homeopathy. In farmacies they’ll often give you woo without informing you about it and you only n

  17. says

    Sorry, accidentially hit submit…
    In farmacies they’ll often give you woo without informing you about it and you only notice at home that all you have is overpriced water.
    2.) Regular medicine, including OB/Gyns didn’t always treat women very well and they often still don’t do. It’s getting better but those things are not forgotten. I don’t know how much you know about the Thalodomide scandals in the 1960’s. Those things are not forgotten. They’re a precendence for women not to trust their doctors when they say “it’s safe”, especially not when they, the women, again took the blame.

    So, it’s easy to look at those women and point the finger. And it frankly has a good deal of misogyny added. Women, gullible, too stupid to make sensible healthcare decisions so let’s better take their rights away from them. Sure, you don’t think that but you’re feeding the trope. Stereotype threat and all of that.

  18. Max says

    I can’t speak for the scientific immunology aspect of the vaccination process, but I’ve yet to meet a parent who opted not to vaccinate and regretted it. I’ve met dozens along the way and it always seems that the non vaccinated children are sick far less often and I’ve never heard of them actually contracting any of the diseases they’d refused vaccinations for any more than the vaccinated children. Why don’t they do any studies on vaccinated vs non vaccinated children. I’d really like to see that… Or if you’ve heard of any studies, please provide them, because I’d like all available information. Not trying to be a skeptic, but simply trying to be informed.

  19. says

    @Max, #21: Even if you’ve met dozens, that’s anacdotal evidence and your memory may be failing you. As for them not getting the diseases, there’s a phenomenon called “hurd immunization”, which means that if a non- vaccinated child is surrounded by those who are vaccinated (or contracted the disease themselves as a child and are therefore now immune), the non-vaccinated child is protected because it will not get into contact with the disease. Naturally, that only works if the non-vaccinated population is small. If the population is large, e.g. in the Dutch bible belt (I’m from the Netherlands, hence my knowledge on that), outbreaks of diseases are relatively common: this year there was an outbreak of the measels, with thousands of children catching it. In the 90s there was even an outbreak of polio, a disease otherwise eredicated. There are plenty of figures available on child deaths prior to mass vaccination and after. The simple fact is: children died, a lot, getting diseases like polio, measels, diphtheria. And now they don’t.

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