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Volunteers Helping With Tornado Cleanup Need Tetanus Shot

Last updated on Tuesday, March 6, 2012

(UNDATED) - Volunteers flocking to southern Indiana to help with tornado cleanup efforts are being urged to get a tetanus shot first.

Tetanus is a bacteria found in soil, manure and dust, and it's recommended that adults get a booster shot every 10 years.

Retirees Ray and Nancy Miller, from Salem, rolled up their sleeves for a free vaccine before helping clear rubble in New Piken on Monday.

"It's been over 10 years since I've had one, and you get around all that lumber, nails and glass, I want to make sure were safe," Ray Miller said.

"We just feel were blessed. Salem wasn't affected," Nancy Miller said. "We want to go down and help our neighbors to the south."

Tetanus symptoms include muscle spasms and body stiffness commonly known as lockjaw, when the muscles tighten so severely that a person can't open the mouth, swallow or sometimes even breathe.

One in five people who are infected with tetanus die, health officials said.

"If you step on a nail or get a cut with a rusty nail, the tetanus shot is going to protect you from that," said Lindsay Brough with the Washington County Health Department. "You want to get the shot within 72 hours of an injury."

The Washington County Health Department is offering free tetanus shots for residents, emergency responders and volunteers.

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