A young girl in Hawaii contracted tetanus and nearly died after falling off a set of bleachers last month. The little girl wasn’t vaccinated at the time. However, her mother, Natasha Gourlay, is now urging parents to vaccinate their children to prevent the illness that nearly killed her daughter.
According to a report on Hawaii News Now, Natasha Gourlay took her daughter to Francis Wong Stadium to watch a baseball game.
During the game, Natasha’s daughter, whose name is withheld to protect her identity, tripped on an old set of bleachers. The little girl’s mouth cut open and her front teeth shifted.
Natasha Gourlay rushed her daughter to a dentist to check out her teeth. According to the mother, the dentist found no evidence of infection. In the days following the fall, the little girl showed no indications of illness.
However, Gourlay said that everything changed three weeks after the fall.
“There was no infection, no signs of redness or swelling,” said Gourlay. “Probably about three weeks after the initial fall, we were noticing while we were eating she wasn’t able to open her mouth all the way.”
Only 48 hours later after her daughter showed symptoms, the girl suffered lockjaw and muscle spasms. Gourlay rushed her daughter to the hospital. Doctors had the girl airlifted to Oahu and placed the toddler in the Intensive Care Unit.
During her hospital stay, doctors diagnosed her with tetanus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tetanus is a disease caused by a bacteria Clostridium tetani. The bacteria live in the soil and enter the body through open wounds.
Tetanus causes muscle spasms, lockjaw, and in severe cases, can lead to death. Contracting tetanus is extremely rare because the tetanus vaccine can prevent the illness from starting.
After diagnosing her with tetanus, doctors treated her illness. The toddler spent two weeks in the hospital and could barely open her mouth. A doctor that treated her, Dr. Jessica Koust, said the girl talked through clenched teeth for weeks.
After two weeks, doctors removed a feeding tube and discharged the girl home. Despite the girl’s brush with death, she is back to her usual self.
Natasha Gourlay said that misinformation related to vaccines made her scared to immunize her daughter. She blamed her inexperience and age in making the unfortunate decision not to vaccinate her daughter.
“I was told an extreme. Then I was told the other side,” she said. “As a young mother, I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.”
“Going through what we went through, I would have done things differently because it was preventable,” said Gourlay.
Now Gourlay’s daughter will receive all of her vaccinations. Additionally, the mother hopes that by sharing her story she can help other parents change their minds about vaccines.
According to the CDC, tetanus is extremely rare in the United States. Since the introduction of the tetanus vaccine in the 1930s, cases of the bacteria have fallen by 99%. For decades, the CDC has reported fewer than 100 cases of tetanus a year.
Despite misinformation spread about vaccines, immunizations do not cause autism. Additionally, vaccines rarely cause serious injuries or death. Instead, vaccines have proven to effectively prevent serious illnesses from spreading and killing millions of people.
The CDC recommends all people get a tetanus vaccine every ten years.
Thankfully for Natasha Gourlay, her daughter survived tetanus. However, the entire disease could have been prevented had she vaccinated her daughter.
Please make sure your children are up to date on all of their vaccinations to prevent illnesses like tetanus, measles, and whooping cough.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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