Possible water contamination in area


In light of the recent flooding around the county, the Jackson County Health Department reminds people to know their status as it pertains to tetanus protection and be aware of possible water contamination.

Most school-aged children who are up to date on their immunizations should be covered against tetanus, but adults often are not as diligent in keeping up to date, according to a news release from Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator for the health department.

Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and causes muscles throughout the body to tighten. It’s also called lockjaw because the infection often causes muscle contractions in the jaw and neck; however, it can eventually spread to other parts of the body.

The bacteria usually are found in soil, dust and manure and enter the body through breaks in the skin — usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects. Exposure is most common when individuals are cleaning up construction sites or the damage and debris caused by floods.

Today, tetanus is uncommon in the United States with an average of 30 reported cases each year, according to the news release. Nearly all cases of tetanus are among people who have never received a tetanus vaccine or adults who don’t stay up to date on their 10-year booster shots.

Tetanus vaccines are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the health department, 801 W. Second St., Seymour. The cost most often is covered by individual insurance.

Also, rural individuals on private wells might want to be aware of possible water contamination as a result of flooding because water from private wells may not be safe to drink.

When a private water well has been flooded, the water in it may be contaminated with waterborne pathogens (germs) that can cause serious illness in humans and pets. If there is a concern a well has been contaminated, it is recommended that the water not be used for drinking and cooking purposes until the water has been tested or treated.

For information on testing and treating water, stop by the health department or call 812-522-6474.

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