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still alive
06-12-2012, 08:03 PM
Which would be more likely to cause death from a rusty fishing hook in 1923?

There were no antibiotics so I thought maybe blood poisoning, and there was a tetanus vacine--but is blood poisoning likely from a puncture wound?

And what is the incubation time for each to show up?

Thanks.

boron
06-12-2012, 08:21 PM
Blood poisoning (sepsis) occurs mainly as a spread of existing infection in severely ill, old, immunodeficient or burnt individuals..., not likely from a puncture wound in an otherwise healthy person.

Tetanus would be possible. Incubation period (http://www.vaccineinformation.org/tetanus/qandadis.asp) may range from 3 to 21 days, in average 8 days.


The further the injury site is from the central nervous system, the longer the incubation period. The shorter the incubation period, the higher the risk of death.

IceCreamEmpress
06-12-2012, 09:47 PM
People died from blood poisoning very frequently in the years before antibiotics, including young and healthy people. Among the famous people who died from blood poisoning were Jack Daniel (founder of the bourbon distillery) and King Alexander of Greece. The 1930s college football star Allen Kidder died of blood poisoning after having been bitten during a fight with another athlete.

One of the most headline-grabbing deaths by blood poisoning was that of Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_Coolidge,_Jr.), son of the US President. Again, a young and healthy person who died after a minor injury became infected.

Siri Kirpal
06-12-2012, 09:50 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

What boron said.

For further details, in 1949 (after your date, I know, but even so), my mother-in-law developed tetanus probably as a result of a reused needle following the birth of her son (now my husband). I believe it took several weeks for the symptoms to develop.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

mirandashell
06-12-2012, 09:54 PM
Isn't tetanus caused by a specific germ? So it has to be present on the fishing hook? But sepsis can be caused by lots of germs and ooglies. So it would be more likely to be blood poisoning, wouldn't it? And that can kill previously healthy people pretty quickly. Especially from a dirty wound.

Fins Left
06-12-2012, 10:05 PM
Tetanus is caused by a bacteria that must be present. I know everyone talks like any rusty nail can have it, but it is actually the damp dirty area causing the rust that is a good incubator for it IF IT IS ALREADY PRESENT.

Look for any anerobic bacteria as a source of puncture wound infection. Puncture wounds are bad because the outside heals trapping the bacteria inside. Once the opening is closed, it makes a perfect warm oozy place for anerobic bacteria to go crazy in.

still alive
06-12-2012, 11:10 PM
My gratitude to all of you. Before I posted on here I read that although it used to be that tetanus was considered a "farm" disease, they now know it's in all soils. (I think that's right).

And after Boron's answer, I went searching for more on tetanus in 1922 since the vaccine wasn't discovered (or at any rate, perfected) until 1927.And I lucked out finding a JAMA article that was free to download (in my experience a miracle in itself!) written by a Dr. Stone in 1922!

How's that for luck. And it appears the general consensus was that the longer it took to discover the disease, the more antitoxin it took to combat it and often there wasn't enough time left in order to do it before death set in.

I think that's kind of neat.

So now, I'm sure you'll hear from me again! As I've posted,
I've never written a mystery--nor I should add a sequel to a historical--so I have lots of questions.

This forum is like striking the mother lode for me! I hope no one objects.
Renee

mirandashell
06-12-2012, 11:24 PM
No problem at all. We all learn from threads like these, whether we use the info or not.

shaldna
06-13-2012, 01:16 AM
Which would be more likely to cause death from a rusty fishing hook in 1923?

Tetanus is most often caused by infection of a wound. It's a big problem in a 'dirty' wound - where dirt and soil are inside the wound - often a deep pinhole puncture, or a 'scrapped' wound - I've seen it appear after falls on rough surfaces such as sliding along a road etc, where dirt becomes lodges inside the wound.

The infection itself is caused by a specific bacteria which is pretty common. It can be found in soil and on surfaces, such as nails etc. but also in faeces.

The first symptons of tetanus are a stiffening and spasming of the muscles. This can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.

About half of untreated folk who have tetanus will recover completely from it, although recovery takes many months in most cases.


Blood poisoning (sepsis) occurs mainly as a spread of existing infection in severely ill, old, immunodeficient or burnt individuals..., not likely from a puncture wound in an otherwise healthy person.

I had septicemia when I was in college, and let me tell you that it's not pretty, and, even with the medical care available now, it was very serious. My folks were called to come see me 'in case'. I had a body temperature of 110 degrees and the doctor told me afterwards that he'd never treated anyone with a temp that high and had them survive before.

I don't remember any of it to be honest. I remember being very, very cold in the moments where I was conscious. I was on two fluid IVs at all times, and I managed to rip both of them out during a fit.

I was in hospital for a long time, and it took about eight months to get back to anything approaching normal again. I just felt so weak and drainned for months.

Sepsis is treated with lots of fluids and antibiotics, but there are varying states, and once you hit extreme sepsis or spectic shock, things become much more worrying.

A lot of people who get it die from it - about half of people who develop septic shock die within the first few weeks, although the nature of sepsis is that it takes so long to recover, and there is every chance that you will get worse at any stage. In fact, the longer you are ill the more worrying it is, even if you seem to be getting better - contracting another illness, even a cold, can send things over the edge. Although commonly it's organ failure which causes death in the end - there is only so much that your heart, liver and kidneys can cope with.

espresso5
06-13-2012, 07:52 AM
Tetanus is caused by the bacterial species Clostridium tetani, which produces the tetanus toxin. This toxin is what causes the spastic paralysis of tetanus.
The genus Clostridium is capable of forming endospores that can survive in the soil for long periods of time. Clostridium botulinum is the other famous Clostridium species, of botulinum toxin (causes botulism and used in botox) fame.
Because endospores are capable of surviving for long periods of time, essentially allowing the bacteria to stay dormant, they are ubiquitous throughout most soils of the world. The reason tetanus is mostly associated with puncture wounds is because the puncture carries C. tetani endospores into the wound where they germinate, thus causing tetanus.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly systemic inflammation that may be caused by septecemia (presence of pathogenic organisms in the blood), which may be caused by bacteremia (presence of bacteria in blood), which could result from a puncture by a fish hook.
Sepsis resulting from bacteremia is most common, especially with the advent of antibiotics, in immunocompromised individuals, largely because any bacteria, even bacteria that might not normally harm a healthy person (normal flora), could potentially lead to sepsis. There are plenty of species of bacteria, however, especially in 1923, that could lead to sepsis in a healthy person.
If the fish hook was pulled out of an old tackle box or had been laying on the ground, I would tend to go with tetanus. If it had been used recently, as in dragged through water with bait on it, I would tend to go with sepsis.

shaldna
06-13-2012, 01:22 PM
If the fish hook was pulled out of an old tackle box or had been laying on the ground, I would tend to go with tetanus. If it had been used recently, as in dragged through water with bait on it, I would tend to go with sepsis.


I would also point out that just because you have one doesn't mean you can't have the other. FOr instance, you can develop tetanus if your wound is infected with the tetanus bacteria. But if that wound then become septic.....

still alive
06-13-2012, 04:44 PM
expresso5, I guess I'll have to go with sepsis, since the hand line had been in a hobo's pocket and surely used recently! What would be the incubation period on sepsis? And how bad would the wound have to be? Would a simple puncture wound cause sepsis? And it would be fatal w/o any antibiotics? I need to do more research!

still alive
06-13-2012, 04:48 PM
shaldna, happy for you that you made it through septicemia! And I appreciate your info. Trouble is that I'm trying to keep it simple and to have to go through tetanus to sepsis is a lot of work! ;)

I have to decide on one or the other. But I'm still at the plotting stage, so I have time to give it thought.
Renee

espresso5
06-13-2012, 08:53 PM
What would be the incubation period on sepsis? And how bad would the wound have to be? Would a simple puncture wound cause sepsis? And it would be fatal w/o any antibiotics? I need to do more research!

A simple puncture would be sufficient to introduce the bacteria.
The incubation period would depend on the species of bacteria and the individual's health. This guy is a hobo, so is he suffering from chronic malnutrition? If that were the case, his immune system might be less robust than a person in peak health.
Let's say he's infected with Staphylococcus aureus, which is one of the more common pathogenic bacteria found on the skin (around 25% of the population are carriers, I'm not sure about in 1923 when the population was less dense and people would have been in less physical contact).
Bacteremia from Sta. aureus can result in 72 hours. The time of bacteria being detected to the onset of full fledged sepsis depends on the individual. You could start a mild fever at around the 72 hour mark and progress it depending on the story's requirements.
Sepsis from Sta. aureus results in death in eighty-plus percent of the cases.

still alive
06-13-2012, 09:11 PM
expresso5, I don't want to give my plot away but it's not the hobo although it was his pocket. And the stuck guy just rubs it against the hobo's dirty clothes. Doesn't treat it and since there was no tetanus vaccine yet in 1923--thinking about it the thing he'd probably do was what usually was done, and that's to make it bleed to get rid of the "poison"--does that really work?

PS. I need at least a week or two before the sepsis or tetanus hits. That's why I was leaning toward tetanus.

shaldna
06-14-2012, 01:45 AM
PS. I need at least a week or two before the sepsis or tetanus hits. That's why I was leaning toward tetanus.

For severe cases of either tetanus or sepsis, you are looking at a couple of days, maybe a week max, but even then it will still be apparent that *something* is wrong.

espresso5
06-14-2012, 03:27 AM
to make it bleed to get rid of the "poison"--does that really work?

PS. I need at least a week or two before the sepsis or tetanus hits. That's why I was leaning toward tetanus.

Not sure about the bleeding part to clear the wound. I doubt if it would do much good, but I don't know for sure. If anything, unless it was done under sterile conditions, which it probably wouldn't be, it could provide an opportunity to introduce more pathogens.

You could have the person just have a low grade fever and general malaise for a couple of weeks until you're ready for him/her to get really sick. Maybe the person doesn't feel so good, but chalks it up to being tired or a cold or something.

still alive
06-14-2012, 03:37 AM
shaldna, I did research on a WWI tetanus study and it said 14 days could elapse before the onset.

So since it's the right time period, I'll go with that. But thanks...

still alive
06-14-2012, 03:39 AM
espresso5, I'm gonna to tell you this much of my plot--the guy gets tetanus or whatever, but he gets it off-stage---I think. I'm considering structure right now, so I'm not sure if the reader will "see" it right now or not.

Thank you for all your help.