Both Doctors and the Media Misinform the Public About Tetanus

Over the years, I have heard lots of medical practitioners and government health officials say some unbelievably stupid things about vaccination. No, really – there have been some corkers!

Vaccines don’t need to be tested…

Way back in the 1990s, I did a double-take when Dr Gavin Frost, Chairman of the National Childhood Immunisation Committee, told me that since vaccines were assumed to be safe and effective, it would be unethical to leave one group ‘unprotected’ in order to test them. So, we are basing a multi-billion dollar medical procedure on guesswork? That’s modern science for you!

Ignorance about MMR in pregnancy

A couple of years ago, I thought I’d heard it all when Dr Richard Kidd, head of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in QLD told a parliamentarian at a hearing into legislative changes to vaccination requirements, that the next time she was pregnant, she should ask her doctor to give her an MMR vaccine – something that is absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy. Whoopsie!

Why did the Northern Star misquote me?

But last night, an article came out in the Northern Star newspaper (Anti-vaxxer questions medical treatment of tetanus patient), our local pro-pharma rag, that quotes a paediatrician, Dr Chris Ingall, and NSW Health as saying several things which I believe are verifiably incorrect.

Fake News, Lying Media
Can you trust what you read, see or hear in the media?

The Northern Star based their piece on an article I published on this blog a couple of days ago (without citing the blog by name, of course) regarding a local child who was ill and hospitalised with a tetanus infection. They never contacted me (they never do), but they did misquote my statement. Below is their incorrect citation:

“Controversial anti-vaxxer, Meryl Dorey claimed in a blog post the diagnosis was “case of medical negligence based on ignorance of the symptoms … and potentially incorrect or incomplete cleaning of the child’s wound in the first instance”.”

And here is what I actually said:

“Rather than being a story of irresponsible parenting, one could possibly make a case that this is instead a case of medical negligence based on ignorance of the symptoms of tetanus infections and potentially incorrect or incomplete cleaning of the child’s wound in the first instance.”

I see what they did there, do you?

Limited value in cleaning wounds? Dr Semmelweiss would be rolling in his grave!

Cleaning wounds, tetanus prevention
The importance of proper wound hygiene

The next paragraph quotes Dr Ingall, a paediatrician with many years’ experience stating:

“…there was “limited value” in wound cleaning and “vaccination is key” to preventing tetanus.”

This statement directly contradicts the Australian Government’s recommendation (and common sense) which says that:

“Whatever the immune status of a person with a tetanus-prone wound, local disinfection and, where appropriate, surgical treatment of tetanus-prone wounds, must never be omitted.”

The world-famous Mayo Clinic states under the treatment protocols for tetanus:

Wound care

Cleaning the wound is essential to preventing growth of tetanus spores. This involves removing dirt, foreign objects and dead tissue from the wound.

Dr Ingall then goes on to say that:

“There is no amount of antibiotic or cleansing that will rid (the body) of the (tetanus) infection.”

But the Mayo Clinic disagrees, saying:

Your doctor may also give you antibiotics, either orally or by injection, to fight tetanus bacteria.

Are Dr Ingall’s statements an admission that this child’s wound was not cleaned properly and that antibiotics were neither administered nor offered as a means of treating this bacterial illness?

It is my personal belief the answer to this question is most likely yes since the next line in the article states that:

“Despite repeated requests, NSW Heath declined to comment whether the girl was offered either treatment when her wound was initially treated at Nimbin hospital.”

Do doctors know what tetanus looks like?

And despite the fact this child’s family say that the doctors and staff who saw their daughter did not recognise tetanus infections, and even consulted with a paediatrician who likewise didn’t know what the condition looked like, NSW Health issued a statement saying:

“…clinicians and nursing staff were trained in, and had access to, the latest clinical protocols for treatment and control of vaccine-preventable diseases, including tetanus.”

How then to explain the delay in diagnosing this child with tetanus – a delay which could potentially have led to her death?

From the research, lack of recognition of the symptoms of tetanus is neither rare nor risk-free. This study from the UK describes two cases of tetanus that were not recognised by the treating physicians, leading to the death of both patients. The importance of tetanus risk assessment during wound management

Where is the evidence that vaccination prevents tetanus?

 

Lastly, Dr Ingall, as stated above, claimed that ““vaccination is key” to preventing tetanus.””

I would like to know how that statement can be made when tetanus is a disease for which natural immunity may not exist. In other words, you can develop a tetanus infection, recover from it and then, get another tetanus prone wound weeks or months down the track and get tetanus all over again.

The QLD Department of Health states on their website that:

“As recovery from tetanus may not result in immunity, an important part of the treatment is to ensure that the person starts a course of vaccination to prevent them from contracting tetanus in the future.”

Now, I will ask you all the question I have asked medicos for nearly two decades without any answer at all – if natural infection cannot convey immunity, how can vaccination do what the disease cannot?

Lastly, the treatment this child was given, Tetanus Immunoglobulin (TIG) is yet more guesswork since drugs.com, an authoritative source on pharmaceutical products states:

“Evidence of effectiveness of TIG in the treatment of active tetanus infection is limited and optimum dosage not established.”

Once again, the medical community and the media blame the victim

This family has been pilloried in the court of public opinion for not subjecting their child to a vaccination which nearly killed one of her close relatives. Their family history most likely predisposes her to a serious reaction to tetanus vaccines. At one time,when individual health was considered to be more important than the protection of government vaccine policies, this would have been a contraindication to being vaccinated

In my opinion, this family acted responsibly and with all due care. I believe they may have been badly let down by the medical community who might have failed to diagnose or treat their daughter’s illness in a timely or appropriate manner.

And lastly, we have all been let down by the media which has done its best to incite hatred, misinform and outright lie as well as lying by omission about all aspects of this case.