Kasey Kahne speaks out to fans about health

DID YOU KNOW THAT EVEN MINOR CUTS AND SCRAPES CAN THROW YOUR SUMMER FUN OFF TRACK? - NASCAR'S Kasey Kahne Urges You to Avoid Risk by Getting the Tetanus Booster - BETHESDA, MD, May 16, 2004 -- Warm weather and sunshine draw people outdoors...


- NASCAR'S Kasey Kahne Urges You to Avoid Risk by Getting the Tetanus Booster -

BETHESDA, MD, May 16, 2004 -- Warm weather and sunshine draw people outdoors where it's not unusual to get an occasional cut or scrape that doesn't cause much concern. But what most people don't realize is that even these small wounds from sports and other summer activities can put you at risk for tetanus, a severe infection that can sometimes be fatal. Safety equipment can help prevent most injuries, but the only way to protect against this disease is with a tetanus booster vaccine.

Tetanus bacteria are common in the environment, typically found in dust and dirt, and can even collect on sporting equipment, shoes, and skin surfaces. The bacteria can enter the body through any open wound. Between 1998 and 2000, more than half of injuries resulting in tetanus infection occurred outdoors according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).*1

"As a race car driver, I'm automatically at risk for injuries, including the kind that could open the door for tetanus. But I want to remind everyone that simple cuts and scrapes from playing summer sports can put you at risk too," says NASCAR's Kasey Kahne. "I want families to have fun this summer and be safe. That's why I'm asking everyone to stay on track with a tetanus booster, starting this summer."

NASCAR's 2004 "Rookie of the Year" Kasey Kahne is teaming up with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and the National Coalition for Adult Immunization (NCAI) on the Power of 10 campaign to raise awareness about the need to maintain the tetanus booster vaccine, starting in adolescence and then every 10 years throughout life.

*1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tetanus Surveillance, United States, 1998-2000. MMWR; 2003;52

The tetanus vaccine, called the "Td" booster, also provides protection against diphtheria, an infection that is passed from person to person. Re-vaccination is required for both diseases every 10 years. All major medical societies and the CDC recommend that the Td booster process should begin starting at age 11 or 12, followed by boosters every 10 years throughout life.*1,2

"While the vast majority of children are protected against tetanus and diphtheria, half of adults over age 20 are not. This is a serious public health concern because these diseases are completely avoidable," explains infectious disease specialist and NFID President Donald M. Poretz, MD. "Tetanus is a devastating disease that requires critical care and lengthy hospitalization, followed by extensive rehabilitation. It's an extremely painful disease, and it's fatal in 10 percent of cases."

Essential Information About Tetanus
While a tetanus infection is not contagious, any type of open wound, including small cuts or scrapes, can provide an entryway for the tetanus bacteria to lead to infection. The most common form of tetanus causes paralysis and includes symptoms such as lockjaw, neck stiffness, difficulty swallowing, and muscle spasms. Symptoms of tetanus can appear anywhere from three days to three weeks after exposure to the bacteria, and may be accompanied by fever, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat.

A recent case demonstrates how something as ordinary as a bug bite can lead to a serious problem. In 2003, a woman developed a tetanus infection from the site of a fire ant bite that occurred while she was tending her garden. Within weeks of the bite, she began to experience muscle spasms in her mouth and throat. When she visited her physician two weeks later, her condition had become so debilitating that she was unable to walk on her own. She was diagnosed with tetanus and admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, she recovered, but only after weeks of intensive care, including a respirator, and long-term rehabilitation.

*2 McQuillan G, Kruszon-Moran D, Deforest A, Chu S, Wharton M. Serologic immunity to diphtheria and tetanus in the United States. Ann Intern Med. 2002 May 7; 136(9):660-666.

Essential Information About Diphtheria
Diphtheria is a highly-contagious disease that is contracted by inhaling bacteria passed along from an infected person. Diphtheria is still common in 87 countries, with some strains continuing to circulate in parts of the U.S. Travel destinations where diphtheria is found include certain parts of Africa, Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, the former Soviet republics, and Asia. Symptoms begin very much like a common cold, usually two to five days after transmission, but can progress quickly. In some cases, a membrane grows and covers the throat, which can block the airway. The infection can lead to heart failure and paralysis, and, if enough toxin from the membrane is absorbed into the bloodstream, coma or even death can occur in as little as a week's time.

NFID/NCAI and the Power of 10 Campaign
Founded in 1973, the NFID is a non-profit organization dedicated to public and professional educational programs about and in support of research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases. NCAI is a network of more than 140 organizations dedicated to promoting adult immunization primarily through educational and motivational activities. The coalition was formed in 1988 to make the most efficient use of public and private resources to achieve national goals in adult immunization.

To promote public education about tetanus and diphtheria risks and prevention, NFID and the NCAI created the Power of 10 campaign. Now in its third year, the campaign focuses on the importance of staying up-to-date with the tetanus-diphtheria booster, required every 10 years.

For more information about the Power of 10 campaign, tetanus and diphtheria, and preventive vaccination, visit the NFID web site at www.nfid.org. The Power of 10 campaign is made possible by an unrestricted educational grant to NFID from sanofi pasteur.


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