CDC: Still some cases of tetanus in U.S.

March 31, 2011 at 4:26 PM
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ATLANTA, March 31 (UPI) -- Reported U.S. tetanus cases declined more than 95 percent since 1947, but there are still cases, federal health officials say.

The report, published in the Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, says tetanus is a rare but life-threatening disease in the United States -- caused by the toxin of Clostridium tetani, which is found in soil and animal excrement.

CDC officials analyzed 233 tetanus cases reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System during 2001 to 2008. The case-fatality rate was 13.2 percent among the 197 cases with known outcomes, the report says.

"Case fatality was higher among persons age 65 and older, diabetics and unvaccinated persons or those not up-to-date with vaccination," the report says.

"Tetanus is a vaccine preventable disease and physicians should ensure all patients are up-to-date for tetanus vaccination -- especially those ages 65 and older and patients with diabetes. Children should receive a complete series of the tetanus vaccine at ages 2, 4, 6, 18 months and then ages 4-6."

A booster shot should be administered for children at age 11-12 and then every 10 years, federal health officials say.

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