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Hamster bites and tetanus shots

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Over 20 years ago I had a hamster that bit both my uncle and me the first night I got her. We went to the ER and he had to get a tetanus booster since he hadn't had one in years, and I didn't since I was a kid and had a booster somewhat recently.

So, is it still common for the docs to give a tetanus shot for a hamster bite? And is it actually necessary? DD just got a hamster and isn't vaccinated so if a bite is a necessary situation, then she'd have to get the immunoglobulin and I'd rather she wasn't injected with other people's blood products....

I am not worried about tetanus with regular wounds, but I realized now that I don't have as much knowledge with respect to animal wounds. Dr. Sears site says that rabies isn't a worry with hamsters but that a child should get a tetanus booster if they haven't had one in 7 years or more. This is for wounds that deeply puncture or tear the skin, and a hamster can deeply puncture. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/T084900.asp Of course though, Dr. Sears is pro-vax which is likely influencing his recommendation. Lots of the other info I've been coming up with has been crap.

Does anyone have any information on tetanus and animal bites, specifically hamsters? Any web site bookmarked or book recommendations?

Thanks!
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechnoGranola View Post
Over 20 years ago I had a hamster that bit both my uncle and me the first night I got her. We went to the ER and he had to get a tetanus booster since he hadn't had one in years, and I didn't since I was a kid and had a booster somewhat recently.

So, is it still common for the docs to give a tetanus shot for a hamster bite? And is it actually necessary? DD just got a hamster and isn't vaccinated so if a bite is a necessary situation, then she'd have to get the immunoglobulin and I'd rather she wasn't injected with other people's blood products....

I am not worried about tetanus with regular wounds, but I realized now that I don't have as much knowledge with respect to animal wounds. Dr. Sears site says that rabies isn't a worry with hamsters but that a child should get a tetanus booster if they haven't had one in 7 years or more. This is for wounds that deeply puncture or tear the skin, and a hamster can deeply puncture. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/T084900.asp Of course though, Dr. Sears is pro-vax which is likely influencing his recommendation. Lots of the other info I've been coming up with has been crap.

Does anyone have any information on tetanus and animal bites, specifically hamsters? Any web site bookmarked or book recommendations?

Thanks!
Hamsters don't carry tetnus. My kids were both bit by their hamsters and it never even occured to me to take them in for it. We just washed it, put a bandaid on it, and moved on with life. It's not rabies, animals don't give it to you by biting you. It's carried in barn animal poop. So if your dd stepped on a nail or large sliver in a barnyard, got a puncture wound, and it didn't bleed....then I'd get the Ig. There is NO DANGER of tetnus in a wound that bleeds....since blood carried oxygen and tetnus can only multiply in an oxygen free environment.
post #3 of 11
One of my reference books and the CDC states that tetanus can come from animal bites. Tetanus lives in the soil and cow manure can harbor the bacteria as well as animals intestines. Mostly common in humid climates and dense populations.

Now having a pet hamster that came from your local pet store that lives in a clean cage has a slim chance of carrying tetanus IMO.

Looks like the US has about 40 or so cases a year of tetanus and majority come from puncture wounds from nails with a couple from animal bites.
post #4 of 11


Um, I wouldn't even consider it a risk. Not at all.

A wound that bleeds is at incredibly low risk for tetanus- no matter WHAT caused it.

-Angela
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by k9sarchik View Post
Looks like the US has about 40 or so cases a year of tetanus and majority come from puncture wounds from nails with a couple from animal bites.
Where did you find a reference to that? Puncture wounds do occasionally cause tetanus. I'm not sure I've ever read a case from an animal bite though.

-Angela
post #6 of 11
It sounds to me like that particular ER doc was just using anything as an excuse to administer another tetanus shot. That, or the doc was truly clueless about the difference between hamsters and farm animals in regards to tetanus risk. He may have just learned "animals can carry tetanus" and "hamsters are animals" and never really thought it through (plus had the attitude that tetanus shots "can't hurt" so why not give one when you're in doubt?)
post #7 of 11
I've been bitten by horses, cows, dogs, cats, nipped by birds, etc. I've been kicked by horses with horseshoes and scratched by various animals. Have never gotten tetanus, nor the shot. Didn't even visit a doctor. Just washed the wound and made sure it didn't get infected. In fact, tetanus never even crossed my mind as something to watch for.
post #8 of 11
Hey Angela~ I found the information in my book Raising a Vaccine Free Child and from the CDC info on tetanus. Both state it can come from animal bites but looking at the statistics on it, it is REALLY rare.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by k9sarchik View Post
Hey Angela~ I found the information in my book Raising a Vaccine Free Child and from the CDC info on tetanus. Both state it can come from animal bites but looking at the statistics on it, it is REALLY rare.
Yeah, I think it's a theoretically thing. I've not seen ONE actual case history from an animal bite.

-Angela
post #10 of 11
Tetanus is really rare anyway. So, I guess not being able to find one single instance of an animal bite causing tetanus would be......near impossible? Especially a hamster.

But, did anyone else notice that apparently tetanus can come from ear infections and PREGNANCY!??!?!

Watch out Angela!! You might get tetanus....
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by attachedmamaof3 View Post
Watch out Angela!! You might get tetanus....
More likely than *pregnancy* it's cause by dirty drs. sticking hands where they don't belong....

-Angela
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