Urgent warning of a rare disease emerging nationwide as a woman becomes the first Australian to die from it in 30 years
- NSW’s first tetanus death in 30 years
- Tetanus doesn’t spread, it’s an infection
- The greatest risk is from untreated cuts
Health authorities are urging people to get vaccinated against tetanus after three recent cases in NSW, including one death that was the first in the state in 30 years.
NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Christine Selvey said older Australians in particular should make sure they are up to date on their tetanus shot.
Tetanus is a rare but potentially deadly disease. Vaccination is the best protection,” Dr Selvey said Thursday.
The bacterial infection mainly occurs in older people, usually women, whose vaccination has expired.
Doctors have revealed that contact with contaminated soil can lead to tetanus (stock image)
There is a peak in tetanus cases in Australia in 2023
A Sydney woman in her 80s died of tetanus on April 1, following two other recent cases – a woman in her 80s from Sydney and a woman in her 70s from northern NSW.
They are the first cases reported in NSW since 2019 and the death is the first since 1993.
‘This serves as a reminder to all older Australians to check their tetanus vaccination status,’ said Dr Selvey.
In all cases, tetanus was contracted from a minor leg wound contaminated with garden soil.
If the bacteria gets into wounds, it produces a toxin that affects the nervous system. The disease does not spread from person to person.
Adolescents and adults who have never had a tetanus shot should receive three doses, and booster doses 10 and 20 years after the primary course.
Not one but three shots are recommended to immunize someone against tetanus