June 15, 2008
Most of us think that tetanus is something we get when stepping on a rusty nail. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey 85 per cent of Canadians named rusty nails as a source of tetanus. But any rough, uneven surface of rusted metal provides good habitat for the tetanus bacteria.

Landscapers should know that tetanus occurs naturally in soil, compost or packaged potting mixtures. It typically enters the body through an open wound in the skin, such as you receive by cutting yourself on sharp tools or jagged objects buried in the dirt.

Medical experts say that if you haven’t had a tetanus booster within the last ten years, you may be at risk of contracting this serious disease. In fact, three in 10 Canadians are not protected against tetanus. In recent years, approximately 11 per cent of reported tetanus cases have been fatal. The highest mortality rates are in unvaccinated persons and persons over 60 years of age.

The Canadian Coalition of Immunization Awareness and Promotion is urging Canadians to check their immunization records, and to visit their doctor or local clinic if they are due for a booster.

While 78 per cent of Ontarians have received a tetanus shot, 24 per cent last received it more than 10 years ago. For more information see www.immunize.cpha.ca.