Although gardening is not without backbreaking work, most gardeners would say that they find the ritual of planting, digging and harvesting to be relaxing. There can be hazards to your health out in the dirt though. Spider and tick bites rank high among concerns of gardeners, but there is a potentially deadly disease that can be lurking in the soil and amazingly it can be prevented.
“You get tetanus from a toxin that is produced from the bacterium called Clostridium tetani,” explained Wilton Internal Medicine Physician Nancy Gade MD. The bacterium can be found in the soil but is usually from contaminated manure in agricultural animals.
“It is more common in developing countries and is very rare here in the United States,” added the doctor. But with a fatality rate of 2 in every 10 infected individuals, it is a disease that raises quite a concern.
The tetanus bacteria enters the bloodstream through a cut or wound on one’s skin. The main symptom of the disease is “lock jaw”, a muscular stiffness and tightening that can spread beyond the jaw and prevent swallowing.
Many gardeners wear protective gardening gloves but one thing that gardeners find most pleasing about the practice is being able to literally put their hands into the earth. For these gardeners, a tetanus vaccination is a must.
“The number one way to prevent tetanus is to maintain your immunizations,” said Dr. Gade. The vaccination is recommended once every ten years and there is even a new vaccination on the market called the Tdap, which vaccinates against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough.
The trifecta vaccine most likely costs more money than a regular tetanus vaccine but Dr.Gade suggests that people who are due for a tetanus vaccine get the Tdap so that they are completely protected.
“It is recommended that all adults get one Tdap vaccine in their life,” Dr. Gade added.