An unvaccinated Oregon boy almost died from tetanus, the first case of the bacterial infection in the state in 30 years. The 6-year-old’s harrowing illness and painful, two-month treatment — which cost close to a million dollars — were detailed by doctors in a case report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The boy became infected in 2017 after cutting his head while playing outdoors on the family’s farm. His wound was cleaned and stitched by his family at home, according to the Oregon doctors who treated the child and wrote the CDC report. All seemed fine, until six days later when he started crying and experiencing involuntary muscle spasms and clenching his jaw. Soon he was arching his neck and suffering back and muscle contractions throughout his body.
When he began to have trouble breathing, his parents called for emergency services and the child was airlifted to a pediatric medical center. Upon arrival at the hospital, the child was alert but unable to open his mouth due to lockjaw and severe muscle spasms, critical care pediatrician Dr. Carl Eriksson of the Oregon Health and Science University and the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital told NBC News via email.