Woman's case proves you don't need a rusty nail to contract tetanus


POSTED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 7:08am

A day in the garden has put a Naples, Florida woman in the ICU with a debilitating disease.

Dr. Kenneth Kalassian is treating Carla Morris for tetanus.

He says rusty nails are not the only cause of the disease.

"This is the second case I've seen in almost 20 years of practice. It can be any type of injury that breaks the skin and allows bacteria from the soil to get into the wound," Kalassian said.

Carla's husband, Bob Morris, visits with her when he can, but his visits are controlled and brief.

"If you touch her or say something, that sets off another spasm," Bob said.

Spasms he describes like an unrelenting cramp, gripping every muscle in the body, tensing it like a brick.

"It's something you do not want to see. It's the most horrible experience that I have seen with all of the pain and suffering," Bob said.

It all started about three weeks ago, Carla was out gardening when she got a splinter from a palm frond.

According to Bob, his wife hasn't had a tetanus shot in many years.

Dr. Kallasian says tetanus is preventable with a vaccine, and recommends one every five years or a booster after any puncture wound injury.

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