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BEST SHOT TO STAY HEALTHY

- Cat Poop Not the Only Danger in Your Garden Soil; Tetanus Bacteria Can also Pose a Health Hazard -

When working in flower and vegetable gardens this summer, local residents are being reminded to protect themselves from a dangerous toxin producing bacteria that may lurk in the soil.

Tetanus or lockjaw is a serious disease that can occur if dirt contaminated with the tetanus germ gets into a cut or wound on a person’s skin. According to the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit, tetanus can cause painful spasms of the muscles in the neck, arms, legs and stomach, and painful convulsions which can be severe enough to break bones.

“Fortunately, there is a safe, effective and publicly-funded vaccine available to everyone in Ontario to protect against tetanus,” says Linda McCarey, Director of Communicable Disease Control with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Being fully immunized against tetanus is the best way to prevent tetanus.”

Most people are immunized against tetanus as part of their childhood schedule of vaccinations, McCarey says. Tetanus immunization is recommended for people of all ages, with booster shots given every 10 years to ensure protection.

“Stepping on a rusty nail is not the only way a person can get tetanus,” she adds. “Tetanus bacteria can be found in soil everywhere, and in the bowels of people and animals. When these bacteria enter a wound or a cut on a person – even through a small puncture in the skin – they can multiply and produce a toxin that affects the body’s nervous system.”

While immunization is the best protection against tetanus, McCarey recommends people also avoid infections by:

  • Wearing protective gloves, clothing and foot wear while gardening or renovating.
  • Being careful when using tools that could puncture the skin.
  • Immediately cleaning any wounds thoroughly with warm water and soap.

Residents should also check their immunization records to ensure they are up-to-date on their tetanus shot and other recommended immunizations. If it has been more than 10 years since last receiving a tetanus booster, people should call their health care provider or the HKPR District Health Unit (toll-free at 1-866-888-4577) for more information on how to update their immunization.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Linda McCarey, Director, Communicable Disease Control, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free 1-866-888-4577.

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