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Subject: Inoculations

Inoculations

From: J. Claire Dean <clairedean>
Date: Tuesday, February 10, 1998
Thomas Dixon <ngvcons [at] vicnet__net__au>
> I was told many years ago that tetanus vaccination and subsequent
> booster shots every ten years were necessary for museum staff
> handling museum objects and works of art...

My understanding of the tetanus bacterium (clostridium tetani) is
that it is not confined to horse manure but that it is also commonly
present in soil in general, and indeed it does enter the human
system via contamination of open wounds and cuts.  The result can be
what used to be called "lock-jaw" - severe muscle spasms sometimes
resulting in the muscles becoming rigid.  These symptoms are often
concentrated in the lower jaw and neck, hence the common name.

As a conservator who works predominately with archaeological
materials, I have always kept my tetanus shots current.  When I was
working as a "dirt" archaeologist in the UK (prior to becoming a
conservator), I remember being required to have current tetanus
protection by various employers.  This approach to tetanus risk may
have changed over the years and I am basing my personal protection
plan on old practices.  However, last week I went for a yellow fever
and hepatitis shot for some up-coming travel, and the nurse
routinely checked my tetanus status and reminded me of when I should
get my next booster, so I guess it is still considered important.

J. Claire Dean
Dean & Associates Conservation Services
3438 NE 62nd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97213
503-331-1972
Fax: 503-331-0762

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                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:69
                Distributed: Tuesday, February 10, 1998
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Received on Tuesday, 10 February, 1998

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