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Can you get Tetanus from eating rust and soil?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
My toddler ate some dirt that was by a very rusty spike ( and possibly some rust as well). Should I worry? I've culled through my books/ the internet and haven't found anything pertaining to eating Tetanus bacteria. I was thinking it might not be a concern because the bacteria is anaerobic and the mouth/digestive system is full of oxygen. Am I wrong?
post #2 of 22
First- rust has absolutely nothing to do with tetanus.

I don't think it's possible to get tetanus orally.

-Angela
post #3 of 22
my understanding is that tetanus is already inside of us. it is the situation-a deep wound or similar-that allows for the tetanus to thrive...
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Logically I know that the bacteria lives in soil, but I am afraid of rust anyway, especially dirty outdoor rust.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LISSA~K View Post
Logically I know that the bacteria lives in soil, but I am afraid of rust anyway, especially dirty outdoor rust.
Why?

-Angela
post #6 of 22
Lissa, the rust is not the issue. It is a fallacy that rust somehow is synonymous with tetanus. I think where people get that idea is that rust makes the surface of metals more porous and therefore a much better environment for the tetanus bacterium to attach and live than say a nice new shiny nail. Tetanus is most likely to be found in areas with agricultural runoff, livestock waste, etc. It's possible that tetanus could be in that soil but I don't think, like Angela said,that you can contract it orally. That would be highly, highly unlikely if not impossible unless you had a puncture inside of the mouth... I would only be concerned personally with a very deep puncture wound and an oxygen starved environment. As an aside... even if it was a puncture wound we were talking about...it is my understanding that children are less susceptible to tetanus than the elderly and other at-risk groups because their blood flow to extremities is so much greater.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks ladies I feel better. I think I forgot to mention that he is teething also so he has a few open, inflamed areas on his gums where a few teeth have erupted.
post #8 of 22
Eating dirt is not a tetanus risk. Neither is rust. Tetanus is pretty much all around us; it is only a risk if it gets inside a wound with no oxygen that it is a threat. Even in a risky wound, what is the real risk?

This is from the CDC Pink Book on Tetanus:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pin...etanus-508.pdf
Quote:
Tetanus cases among this population declined from 70 in World War I (13.4/100,000 wounds and injuries) to 12 in World War II (0.44/100,000). Of the 12 case-patients, half had received no prior toxoid.
So in World War I, the rate was 13.4 per 100,000 wounds and injuries. That means of all the people injured in World War I 0.01% got tetanus even though they had not been vaccinated (they did use passive immunization, but still...) In World War II, the rate dropped to effectively 0 but half of the people who got tetanus had been vaccinated.

Also, they only infer from the antitoxin levels that protection exists.

Quote:
Efficacy of the toxoid has never been studied in a vaccine trial. It can be inferred from protective antitoxin levels that a complete tetanus toxoid series has a clinical efficacy of virtually 100%
post #9 of 22
I'm imagining that most of those wounds would have been ones that bled freely vs wounds that were anaerobic, so I'm not sure this can tell us much about the risk in a wound that is specifically a risk due to possibly being anaerobic. Does that make sense? Course I wasn't there in WWI so I wouldn't really know the ratio of wounds that bled freely. Its just one thing that popped into my head when I was doing my research to see if I could discern what the risk might be if an unvaccinated child did have a wound that seemed to be at particular risk of being anaerobic. I found no clear answer for that. The info just isn't out there that I could find.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissRubyandKen View Post
I'm imagining that most of those wounds would have been ones that bled freely vs wounds that were anaerobic, so I'm not sure this can tell us much about the risk in a wound that is specifically a risk due to possibly being anaerobic. Does that make sense? Course I wasn't there in WWI so I wouldn't really know the ratio of wounds that bled freely. Its just one thing that popped into my head when I was doing my research to see if I could discern what the risk might be if an unvaccinated child did have a wound that seemed to be at particular risk of being anaerobic. I found no clear answer for that. The info just isn't out there that I could find.
I would imagine that war wounds (especially in World War I, which was a terrible war fought in trenches) would be some of the more likely wounds to get tetanus. These kinds of wounds would run the risk of being severely puncturing, crushing, traumatic, covering larger areas, being contaminated with dirt, shrapnel, etc. and probably overall less likely to get prompt wound management. These are the kinds of wounds that you'd want to get passive immunization for (TIG or anti-toxin) for today.

The CDC doesn't recommend passive immunization for minor wounds that receive proper wound care today - even in unvaccinated individuals. The protocol is only to vaccinate, unless the wound is severe, can't be managed easily, etc.
post #11 of 22
We carry tetanus spores in our gut so no, you can not get tetanus via the stomach or gut.

Rust never causes tetanus since it takes oxygen to get anything to rust in the first place. Air, water, blood all contain oxygen so the chance of tetanus.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by glorified_rice View Post
I think where people get that idea is that rust makes the surface of metals more porous and therefore a much better environment for the tetanus bacterium to attach and live than say a nice new shiny nail.
That is actually not correct. Tetanus spores can live on your soap, on your clean hands, in your oven. Anywhere really.


Quote:
Tetanus is most likely to be found in areas with agricultural runoff, livestock waste, etc.
Again, spores? Or the tetanus bacteria? Because spores live everywhere but they can only evolve in the right condition. And horse manure is one of them. Since it is thick and heavy and very tight where oxygen could be lacking. If there is a lot of water present (like in a runoff) the spores can't evolve into the bacteria.


Quote:
I don't think, like Angela said,that you can contract it orally. That would be highly, highly unlikely if not impossible unless you had a puncture inside of the mouth...
There is way too much oxygen in the mouths to cause the spores to mature into the bacteria. That is most unlikely.


Quote:
I would only be concerned personally with a very deep puncture wound and an oxygen starved environment.
Exactly. Or a deep burn or crush wound.


Quote:
as an aside... even if it was a puncture wound we were talking about...it is my understanding that children are less susceptible to tetanus than the elderly and other at-risk groups because their blood flow to extremities is so much greater.
Right.

Remember that spores live everywhere. Like dust, who knows what is in dust but since we have no vaccines we are not afraid of dust.
The spores need to find a compfy home that is deep within the flesh and contains some dead material that is void of all blood flow and therefore contain no oxygen.
Only then can the spores evolve into the bacteria.
This bacteria produces a side affect and that is what causes us problems. We call that for short "tetanus" but it is the waste product of the bacteria AFTER it has evolved. Not the everyday tetanus spores we encouter EVERYWHERE.

io it is crazy to fear tetanus spores since you have a much better chance to get struck by lightening.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitti View Post
If there is a lot of water present (like in a runoff) the spores can't evolve into the bacteria.
You are so well-versed in this Gitti. You're really such a resource to many of us here and I have learned so much from you over the past several years But, in relation to your comment above, and sorry to sort of take this off-topic just for a moment, this is super-interesting to me right now because we just had a flood here, and another one coming and there have been tetanus shot clinics all over town because everyone is so scared of getting tetanus because of the flood which has never made sense to me. I figured it was possible that it would be more likely because of all of the agricultural waste in the floodwaters, so you're essentially saying that the large amount of water present in a situation like a flood would make it less likely for someone to actually contract it?
post #14 of 22
Unless you have an injury that is flushed out with dirty water and closes up instantly so that the dirt including tetanus spores is caught inside ... I see no other way.

Water is oxygen. Dirty water is still oxygen. The oxygen has got to be eliminated to get the tetanus spores to evolve.

Maybe they are thinking of injuries during the flood? Getting crush wounds?

I can't see getting burned during a flood.

Or are they just thinking of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?
post #15 of 22
Thank you for this thread!! This is great information!
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitti View Post
We carry tetanus spores in our gut so no, you can not get tetanus via the stomach or gut.
Speaking of tetanus in the gut, this is a fairly interesting old article:
http://jem.rupress.org/cgi/reprint/43/3/361.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitti View Post
Rust never causes tetanus since it takes oxygen to get anything to rust in the first place. Air, water, blood all contain oxygen so the chance of tetanus.
The necessity of oxygen for rust to form is not relevant to the spores themselves. Tetanus spores can reside on our skin or any other place where there is plenty of oxygen. They are pretty hardy and can probably survive in the environment for decades. It is the bacteria that are anaerobic so a spore (which could be anywhere, including something rusty) gets into a deep wound without oxygen (like a puncture wound) and the toxin forms as the spores germinate.

Rust is only associated with tetanus because rusty things are usually dirty.
post #17 of 22
I know this is a little off topic, but how many of you have cast iron cookware? I have a lot and some times I neglect it and it gets rusty, so..... I know it has been no where near animal feces, or sewage run off, and I still use it. And did you know in as early as a century ago, for anemic patients, the treatment was to boil rusty nails in water and drink it to get iron in your system? So rust is not the enemy. Remember if you step on an outdoor object, and the wound bleeds freely, no problem. Tetnus cannot proliferate with oxygen present.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LVale View Post
I And did you know in as early as a century ago, for anemic patients, the treatment was to boil rusty nails in water and drink it to get iron in your system?
I didn't know that.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LVale View Post
And did you know in as early as a century ago, for anemic patients, the treatment was to boil rusty nails in water and drink it to get iron in your system?
Sort of related and still totally off-topic, but...you're supposed to use metal utensils (preferably not aluminum) when cooking in cast iron pans so that tiny particles of iron scrapings get into your food and fortify it.
post #20 of 22
Believe it or not, but tetanus really only happens if you really get hurt by something dirty, and then never clean it ever, then you might have a very very slight chance of tetanus.

I MIGHT consider that shot if I were going to work on a peace or missionary mission in a 3rd world country where showers and basic 1st aid is not available. MIGHT.
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