An image taken in 1995 and released by the Centers for Disease Control shows a group of Clostridium tetani bacteria, responsible for causing tetanus in humans.
"Thus, routine vaccination for all, plus boosters, are very important to prevent disease", lead author Judith Guzman-Cottrill told Gizmodo.
Tetanus is a rare and completely preventable disease.
The child survived but it cost well over $800,000, according to the article.
Tetanus, which is caused by the bacterial toxin C. tetani, is rare in the USA, since it is easily preventable with vaccination.
Despite the heart-wrenching saga and "extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians", his parents refused another DTaP vaccination-and all other recommended vaccines. It's unclear from the report who covered his hospital expenses.
"This is an bad disease, but ... we have had a mechanism to completely prevent it, and the reason that we have virtually no cases anymore in the United States is because we vaccinate, literally, everyone", Schaffer added.
News about the tetanus case comes as lawmakers in OR and Washington are considering bills that would end non-medical exemptions for routine childhood vaccines as the Pacific Northwest weathers its third month of a measles outbreak.
The 2017 case is the first case of pediatric tetanus in OR in more than 30 years and alarmed infectious disease experts who said tetanus is nearly unheard of in the US since widespread immunization began in the 1940s.
Parts of OR and Washington have been described as anti-vaccination "hotspots", areas where the number of "philosophical belief" non-medical vaccine exemptions have grown in recent years. "When the spores enter a deep flesh wound, they grow into bacteria that can produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin". In fact, since the 1940s and the advent of the tetanus vaccine and wound management techniques, the United States has experienced a 95 percent decline in the number of tetanus cases and a 99 percent decrease in tetanus-related deaths.
The boy was playing outdoors when he got a cut on his forehead. Almost a week later, he was experiencing symptoms consistent with tetanus, including jaw clenching, muscle spasms, "generalized spasticity" and arching of the back and neck. The next thing they know, the boy's neck and back started arching and his whole body became stiff with continuous muscle contractions. Once he had difficulty breathing, he was transported by air to a pediatric medical center, where he was diagnosed with tetanus, according to the CDC. By this point he was so ill, he was unable to open his mouth. His condition quickly worsened: He developed a high fever and more severe muscle spasms. By about six weeks he was sipping clear liquids, and a week later he could walk 20 feet unassisted. After another three weeks of inpatient rehabilitation and a month at home, he could ride a bike and run - a remarkable recovery, experts said.
The cost of his care, (excluding emergency air transportation, rehabilitation, and follow-up costs): $811,929. "You have to support the patient because this poison links on chemically and then it has to be slowly metabolized", Schaffner said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a case study on the 6-year-old boy's medical ordeal on Friday.
"The cost of one DTaP [diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine] dose is somewhere around $24 to $30 a dose, and this could have been prevented with five doses of DTaP vaccine", said Guzman-Cottrill.