St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


Rare infection treated in local hospital

Oct 29, 2020

A 69-year-old male has just been discharged from St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital after contracting tetanus, an extremely rare bacterial infection that affects the central nervous system.

The patient spent more than six months in ICU and rehabilitation after developing systemic tetanus and critical illness myo-neuropathy, a disease affecting the central nervous system, occurring as a complication of severe trauma or infection.

Widespread vaccinations against tetanus were introduced in Australia nearly 70 years ago, with infections rarely presenting in Australian hospitals. In fact, just an average of ten cases are reported each year, with two-thirds (62%) being in people aged 65 and older. 1

At the start of the pandemic and after spending time on his brother’s farm, a local man presented to the hospital unable to eat (dysphagia) with symptoms resembling gastroenteritis.

It was after two weeks in ICU that leading intensive care specialists Professor Jeffrey Lipman and Doctor Satnam Solanki diagnosed the patient with tetanus.

The patient received intensive care for 60 days with five weeks on a ventilator at the hospital which has an 18-bed critical care unit. Allied health therapists at the rehabilitation unit worked with the patient for three months to redevelop his speech and basic motor skills.

While bacterial infections such as tetanus are extremely rare, Australians are reminded that if they experience any unusual speech or motor issues to seek medical advice immediately.