Girl aged 10 catches tetanus despite vaccination 

August 14 2000 The Times


A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl is the first child in Britain to contract life-threatening tetanus for more than a decade.

Tyla Green of Clifton, Nottingham, had been immunised but doctors believe that she got tetanus when she cut her foot five weeks ago.

After four weeks in the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, she has returned home and is expected to make a full recovery in six months. Her mother Halima, 34, who has three other daughters aged from 9 to 13, said yesterday: "We are overjoyed to have Tyla home. We have gone to hell and back, but even though she still can't speak she can laugh and that means the world to us."

Mrs Green said that Tyla had been sent home from school ill and two days later was found disorientated at home. "When I picked her up she went rigid and started having a sort of a fit."

Her husband Shane, 39, called an ambulance and Tyla was taken to hospital. Mrs Green said that doctors suspected that Tyla had meningitis, then another brain virus, until she developed a locked jaw, a classic sign of tetanus. "A doctor asked if she had cut herself. At that time, I didn't think she had, but I learnt later that she had trodden on something which really hurt her foot about a week before she became ill.

"Because it wasn't pouring blood or needed stitches I dismissed it. Tyla was always running around with nothing on her feet. I would advise all parents to make sure their children have something on their feet whenever they are outside."

Tetanus is caused by bacteria that attack the central nervous system. It is extremely rare. There were only three cases, all in adults, in England and Wales last year.

Tyla is the first child under 15 to contract the disease since 1989 and hers is thought to be the first child case in Nottingham for more than 20 years.

Her consultant paediatrician, Martin Hewitt, said: "You can easily die from tetanus but this young lady has made a remarkable recovery. She was desperately ill but I expect her to make a full recovery."

He said it was rare for someone who had been immunised to get the disease but it was possible. "It depends on whether the level of antibodies you have are sufficient to fight the infection," he said.

Tyla would probably need speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy in the coming months before making a complete recovery, Mr Hewitt said.

Dr Richard Sack, consultant for communicable diseases at Nottingham Health Authority, said that the chance of anyone developing tetanus from a wound after being vaccinated was extremely low.