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Podcast: "A patient as stubborn as me"
Earlier this year, paediatric nurse Johanna Bosowski embarked on her first mission with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to Agok, in northern South Sudan.
Working on the neonatal ward, she encountered a young patient with a disease she had never seen in the UK before.
In most developed countries, thanks to a vaccine, cases of tetanus are extremely rare. But, in 2013 (the latest year for which estimates are available), it still killed roughly 59,000 people around the world - many of whom wouldn’t have had access to the vaccine.
Clostridium tetani, the tetanus bacteria, can be found almost anywhere. The moment our defenses are compromised, whether by a blister on the sole of a foot or a traumatic amputation, and tetanus-laden earth gains access to our body, the bacteria begins to pump out a toxin which acts on the central nervous system, much like the pesticide and poison known as strychnine.