Tetanus Shots May Be Needed

WHEELING – Those who are cleaning up flood water and sludge from Wednesday’s storm may need to get a tetanus booster shot.

Laughlin Johnson, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department sanitarian, said those who are cleaning up should receive the vaccine if they have never had one; if they have not received a booster shot in the past 10 years; or if they have an exposed wound or cut and it has been five years since receiving a booster shot.

Tetanus bacteria, he said, is naturally occurring in the soil. Known as lock jaw, tetanus affects the nervous system and there is no cure for the disease.

During cleanup, one should remove the sludge with soap and hot water and then sanitize with a commercial sanitizing solution, or with a solution of 4 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. Items that cannot be cleaned well should be discarded, such as mattresses, stuffed furniture or stuffed toys.

“Clothes can be washed. Metal and wood can be dried off, but all first cleaned and sanitized,” Johnson said. “Dishes and utensils can be cleaned and disinfected and be saved. Appliances, such as stoves, should be checked by a serviceman.”

Johnson was tasked with making sure restaurants that received flooding were cleaning up after the flood. He said Hardee’s on National Road received the most water, but the food preparation area was not flooded. Across the road, CVS received some water inside its front door, while the Chinese food buffet next door did not flood inside.

Johnson said he’s had to clean up his own property after past floods.

“Without a doubt it’s no fun when it happens to you,” he said.