In the age of fake news and viral media, it's easy for people to be convinced of things that probably aren't true - flat-Earthers being a prime example.
While many who are in support of the movement turned their nose up at the World Health Organisation for listing anti-vaxxers as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019, a recently published case study details the first paediatric case of tetanus in over 30 years in Oregon, US, found in an unvaccinated child.
Published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the account describes how the six-year-old boy - who had received no immunisations - contracted the serious disease after getting a cut on his forehead while playing on a farm.
Although the parents stitched up the wound themselves, six days later the boy experienced episodes of crying, jaw clenching and involuntary muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back.
When he had difficulty breathing, the child was air-transported to hospital where he was diagnosed with tetanus and had to ensure around two months of impatient care.
This case was particularly worrying for disease prevention experts not only in Oregon, but across the country, as tetanus has remained more or less unheard of since vaccines were made available to everyone back in the 1940s.
Although their boy nearly died and his hospitalisation racked up a healthcare bill of nearly $812,000 (not including air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation and follow-up costs), the parents declined a second dose of the tetanus vaccine after he received an emergency shot in hospital.
"When I read that, my jaw dropped," said Dr William Schaffner, an expert in infectious diseases and chair at the department of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. "I could not believe it. That's a tragedy and a misunderstanding and I'm just flabbergasted.
"This is an awful disease, but... we have had a mechanism to completely prevent it, and the reason that we have virtually no cases anymore in the United States is because we vaccinate, literally, everyone."
The news of this case arrives just as lawmakers in Oregon and Washington are considering bills that would put a stop to anti-vax parents refusing vaccines for their kids because of non-medical reasons, as the Pacific Northwest has experienced an outbreak of measles in recent months. Many of the kids who contracted the highly contagious disease are reported to be unvaccinated.
On the topic of vaccinations, the World Health Organisation states: "Vaccine hesitancy - the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines - threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.
"Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease - it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved."
Featured Image Credit: PA