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Subject: Inoculations


From: George Prytulak <george_prytulak>
Date: Wednesday, February 11, 1998
I'm not a pathologist or a physician, but I've made a point of
looking into the risk of contracting tetanus (I often work with
dirty, rusted artifacts). Apparently it's an anaerobic
bacillus/bacterium that lives in soil. Being anaerobic, it thrives
mainly in deep, dirty puncture wounds where there is relatively
little oxygen; it doesn't survive in shallow open wounds (minor
cuts, scratches) that are exposed to the air. Hydrogen peroxide
generates oxygen, so it's an effective antiseptic in the latter

There's no connection between rust (iron oxide) and the tetanus
bacterium, except that sharp, dirty objects that cause deep wounds
are commonly made of steel or iron ( the proverbial rusty nail).
Tetanus shots are extremely effective in preventing the disease.
Apparently there wasn't a single reported case in WWII.

It's a good idea to keep a record of your last inoculation. Health
officials don't  like to give you the shots more often than every
ten years.  If you overdo it, I've been advised, you can end up
developing some of the symptoms of the disease (e.g., stiff jaw
muscles).  At the same time, doctors don't take any chances with
serious wounds; if you have only a hazy recollection of the date of
your last shot, they'll give you a new one.

George Prytulak
Conservator, Industrial Collections
Canadian Conservation Institute
Ottawa, Canada

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:70
                Distributed: Thursday, February 12, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-70-004
Received on Wednesday, 11 February, 1998

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