Although tetanus or outbreaks of infectious diseases after a flood in the United States are uncommon and mass vaccination programs are not recommended, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is advising residents to take preventive steps if they have been exposed to flood waters. Tetanus can be transmitted by cuts or puncture wounds. Thus, people who have open cuts or wounds and have been exposed to flood waters should consider a tetanus shot.
The need for the vaccination should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. The Health Department is also recommending that those who need a tetanus shot should get a Tdap vaccination, which includes protection not only against tetanus, but diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) as well.
Tetanus causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead to the tightening of muscles in the head and neck so the victim cannot open his or her mouth or swallow, or sometimes even breath.
In addition to tetanus, flood water can contain other pathogens or organisms that may cause disease. If you are in a flood area and become ill, contact your family physician. Symptoms to watch for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches and fever.
Tdap shots are available through healthcare providers and at the Health Department's Immunizations Clinic at 2303 Dodge Avenue in Waukegan. The vaccination at the Health Department is $41.00. The Health Department's appointment-only clinic is open Monday through Friday and the second and fourth Saturday of each month. For more information or to make an appointment, call: (847) 377-8470.