Evaluation for tetanus important after natural disasters


GREENE COUNTY — Because the risk for injury after a tornado is high, Greene County Public Health officials are urging residents to take certain steps to protect themselves.

“Maneuvering through and clearing away debris and downed trees left behind can pose various risks including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. Prompt first aid can help heal small wounds and prevent infection,” GCPH officials said in a release.

According to GCPH, residents who receive scratches or any type of puncture wound should be evaluated for a tetanus immunization. If the puncture wound is contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva, they said, residents should seek the expertise of a family doctor or other health care professional to determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary based on individual records.

Take the following steps to protect yourself and your family as the affected communities recover from the storms:

• Avoid contact with flood waters if you have an open wound.

• Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing thoroughly with soap and clean water.

• Cover clean, open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce chance of infection.

• Seek immediate medical care if a wound develops redness, swelling, or oozing or other signs of working infection such as fever, increasing pain, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, or confusion or disorientation.

Follow these instructions to care for wounds:

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, if possible.

• Avoid touching the wound with your fingers while treating it (if possible, use disposable gloves).

• Remove obstructive jewelry and clothing from the injured body part.

• Apply direct pressure to any bleeding wound to control bleeding.

• Clean the wound after bleeding has stopped.

• Examine the wound for dirt and foreign objects.

• Gently flood the wound with bottled water or clean running water (if available, saline solution is preferred).

• Gently clean around the wound with soap and clean water.

• Pat dry and apply and adhesive bandage or dry clean cloth.

• Leave unclean wounds, bites and punctures open. Wounds that are not cleaned correctly can trap

bacteria and result in infection.

• Provide pain relievers when possible.

• Check the wound every 24 hours.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if:

• There is a foreign object (soil, wood, metal, or other objects) embedded in the wound;

• A wound is a result of an animal bite;

• A wound is a result of a puncture by a dirty object;

• The wound is infected (pain and soreness, swelling, redness, draining, or you develop a fever);

• You have signs of sepsis (blood infection) such as confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever or shivering, extreme pain or discomfort, or clammy or sweaty skin.

For more information, call Greene County Public Health at 937-374-5600.

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