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Subject: Inoculations


From: Thomas Dixon <ngvcons>
Date: Monday, February 9, 1998
I was told many years ago that tetanus vaccination and subsequent
booster shots every ten years were necessary for museum staff
handling museum objects and works of art. I understood that the
organism that causes tetanus is associated with horse manure and
that any work of art which at one time had been in an environment
where dried horse manure could have blow onto it as airborne dust
had the potential to transfer the disease if, for example, you
received a small cut from a tack on the edge of a painting. This
would mean any item pre-motor car or that had ever been in a farm or
rural environment. This would cover most of the pre-1900 material in
our collections.

I have fairly well demanded that new staff get a tetanus shot and
tried to keep up with other staff to make sure their boosters are
current. However, a colleague has suffered very badly from an
inoculation for another disease which went horribly wrong and this
has made me re evaluate things.  Also, while working in museums for
a quite a long time, I have never heard of anyone actually
contracting tetanus. I have asked our Health and Safety Committee to
contact our public health officials for their advice, but would also
appreciate museum community feedback.

Has anyone looked into this recently?  Does anyone have a museum or
art gallery policy on inoculations of staff for tetanus and/or
other diseases?

Thomas Dixon
Chief Conservator
National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne Australia
Fax: +61-3-9208 0249

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:68
                 Distributed: Monday, February 9, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-68-008
Received on Monday, 9 February, 1998

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