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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# get immunised
Irish boy contracts potentially fatal tetanus infection
The HSE are stressing the importance of vaccination against tetanus which causes death in between 10-25 per cent of cases.

AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy has become the first Irish person to contract the frequently fatal tetanus disease since 2008.

Immunisation against the disease is usually given as part of the the 6 in 1 vaccine for children at 2, 4 and 6 months of age.

The HSE are stressing the importance of vaccination against tetanus which causes death in between 10-25 per cent of cases.

The Irish Medical Journal has published the case of the young boy who contracted the disease following a puncture wound to his right foot sustained while playing barefoot outdoors.

The unvaccinated boy presented to a GP 12 days after the puncture wound and four days after experiencing pain in his left jaw and teeth.

The GP prescribed antibiotics for a possible dental infection.

Over the following two days the boy developed chest tightness, and became unable to open his mouth fully. Upon attending the emergency department, physical exams showed symptoms of tetanus in his limbs but laboratory investigations proved inconclusive.

An examination of the site of the patient’s wound on his foot found a one-inch thorn which was then removed.

He then begun the appropriate course of treatment and spent a total of 17 days in hospital, this included nine days in intensive care.

Over the course of seven days the patient experienced severe tongue swelling  and repeated painful muscle spasms for a 7-day period. Before he was discharged the patient commenced the 6 in 1 vaccine which included tetanus immunisation.

The IMJ report states that “despite advice and education, his siblings remain unvaccinated”.


The HSE cautions that “of the people who get tetanus 1 in 10 will die”. It outlines that the risk is greatest for the very young or aged over 60 and advises that “the only way to protect your self from tetanus is by immunisation”.

The authority say that only one in ten people who receive the vaccine experience side affects which included redness and swelling where the injection was given or a fever.

Information on immunisation can be sought from your G.P., Public Health Nurse or local health office.

Read: Vaccine reminder issued as HSE says 1,000 could die in severe flu season >

Read: First meningitis B vaccine now available privately in Ireland >

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