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Newspaper Page Text
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HOW TO DODGE LOCKJAW ON THE FOURTH
By Dr. Leonard K. Hirshberg, M. D.
There are three ways to avoid the
lockjaw that reaps its annual harvest
after the Fourth of July.
One way is by not using explosives
on "the day we celebrate."
Another is by cutting open widely
the wound and cauterizing every
nook and cranny of it to its utmost
re- i bicsaco nun aiuuiib auui
P The best method of all is by inject
ing lockjaw antitoxin into the tissues
Tetanus antitoxin is an absolutely
certain preventive if the patient is
inoculated within one or two hours
after the injury has occurred. It de-
Btroys the toxins or poisons that are
spread through the system by the te
tanus bacilli, and which, if uncheck
ed, paralyze the nerves and stiffen
the joints of spine and jaw until death
No other virulent organism is more
widely distributed in nature than the
tetanus germ. It is found in the Ut
ter of every barnyard and in the dust
of every. city street. The prongs of
every pitchfork harbor it and it is in
the earth of every field and flower
garden. It has been found in dirty
clothes, on shoe soles, in gutters, on
the surface of fruit, on pocket knives
and even in sea water. '
But this bacillus, though well-nigh
omnipresent, is far from vigorous.
Sunlight and fresh air are its chief
enemies. It is also easily killed by
most of the common antiseptics.
When the bacilli are introduced in
to the wound, the body makes an ef
fort to combat them and prevent
their entrance into the blood-stream.
If the wound is an open one, into
which light and air may enter, the
bacilli are killed soon and their dead
bodies are expelled.
But in case the bacilli happens to
get into a deep or ragged wound, they
increase rapidly and begin to send
their toxins into all parts of the body.
This is what often happens on the
Fourth of July when some luckless
small boy wounds himself with a toy
pistol. The powder makes a ragged,
confused wound and drives into its
depths the tetanus bacilli that hap
pen to be living upon his hand.
Instead of sending for a doctor and
having the wound properly washed
and dressed, the boy's mother binds
it up herself, perhaps with a dirty
rag and tells him to stop crying.
This means that the lockjaw germs
are left where the powder forced
them deep down in the lacerated
tissue, among dead and dying skin
cells and cut off from all light and
Protected thus, and living under
conditions ideally adapted to their
welfare, the bacilli begin to multiply
and poison the nervous system.
Such a wound should always be
cleaned thoroughly with carbolic
acid and watched daily. This can be
done only by an experienced physi
cian. And then tetanus antitoxin should
be injected into the patient's veins to
kill the poisons as fast as they are
given off by the bacilli.
If this is done when the wound oc
curs, the patient recovers. If delayed
until lockjaw symptoms appear, an
titoxin is of little help.
An amount just sufficient W con,-