86 year old man Nguyen Thanh Hien in the Mekong delta’s Cho Moi District experienced spasms and stiffness in the jaw muscles, stiffness of the neck muscles, difficulty swallowing and painful body spasms lasting for several minutes.
His relatives thought him to have Cerebrovascular accident; accordingly, they rushed him to the local infirmary where doctors could not diagnose what disease so he was transferred to the province’s General Hospital. The old man was diagnosed to have tetanus and directly rushed to the Tropical Disease Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. At this time, the old man remembered he scraped the skin off his elbow because he grated it against the wall.
Meantime, 60 year old Nguyen Van Ban in the central province of Binh Thuan had tetanus because he had hit the thumb with a hammer. Thinking simply, he bought medication from nearby pharmacy to have. However, seven days later, he suffered spasms and stiffness in the jaw muscles, stiffness of the neck muscles, difficulty swallowing and painful body spasms.
His relatives took him to a local acupuncturist who provide treatment with herb yet his condition has not abated. So worried, his relatives took him to the hospital where doctors announced him to have tetanus.
According to the Tropical Disease Hospital’s statistics, in first six months of the year, it has admited 160 tetanus patients; most of whom are adults and two neonates; or averagely, it receives 10 - 15 tetanus patients a day.
At present, medical workers in the Intensive Care unit are treating 13 serious tetanus patients while the Infection ward D is treating 40 cases of infections.
Deputy head of the hospital’s Intensive care unit Dr. Duong Bich Thuy said that tetanus people usually have the symptoms such as spasms and stiffness in the jaw muscles, stiffness of the neck muscles, difficulty swallowing and painful body spasms. Because patients suffer stiffness in jaw muscles, their relatives solely thought of Cerebrovascular accident without thinking of tetanus; therefore, the disease is not early detected. Some patients were rushed to the hospital when they are in serious condition, said Dr. Thuy.
Chief of the Infection Ward D Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phong said that the disease can threaten patients’ lives especially elderly people with chronic disease.
People will stay in medical clinic during one or two months paying big charges. Moreover, they may not work later due to stiffness. Medical experts advised vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease.
Currently, tetanus vaccine is included in the National Expanded Immunization Program; the rate of neonatal tetanus dropped drastically.
Nevertheless, a large quantity of adults and elderly people are easily affected by the disease because they were not fully immunized when being kids.
Most tetanus people in the Infection Ward D have not been vaccinated before. Worse, some peopel neglected the disease when they had wounds in climbs without having a tetanus shot.
Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phong said that people in the labor age make up a big rate in the infections because they usually work with items that cause wounds. He advised to have shot not only tetanus but also other contagious diseases.