Ask the doctor: How long after injury should I get a tetanus shot?

A health worker administers a vaccine. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The tetanus germ can get into the body through broken skin, especially that caused by contaminated objects such as rusted nails.

Last week, my daughter and I were involved in a car accident. Is it too late to get immunised for tetanus? Benita
Dear Benita,
Tetanus is a serious and fatal disease acquired from exposure to clostridium tetani bacteria. Fortunately, the disease may be prevented through immunisation if it is done well and in time. 
If one has an injury and has not had a booster tetanus injection within the past five years, or has not had at least six tetanus injections which protect one for life, they should immediately go for a tetanus shot which is best done within 24 hours of injury.
The tetanus germ can get into the body through broken skin, especially that caused by contaminated objects such as rusted nails.
Fortunately in Uganda, especially among urbanites, the first three doses of the vaccine are administered at a young age (starting at the age of six weeks given with other vaccines). Also, the vaccine may be given to pregnant women to protect the unborn child from tetanus.
If you have received a total of six shots but your daughter has not, please go to a nearby health centre and get advised about immunisation or get immunised in case you both require the vaccine.

What causes foul vaginal odour?
Every month after my period, I get a foul vaginal odour. What could be the cause and what can I do to eliminate it? SSS

Dear SSS,
Not all odours indicate a health problem since every woman has a particular vaginal odour. If the vaginal odour is non-existent or worsens after one’s period, this could be due to a normal vaginal odour made worse by natural vaginal bacteria breaking down some remains of period blood higher up in the vagina.
The normal vaginal smell could also have been worsened by using tight, non-cotton clothing and pads which, apart from increasing sweating, may also reduce fresh air circulation, causing the odour.
However, any vaginal odour should be investigated by your doctor since it may be due to another cause, including infections that may endanger your reproductive system, causing infertility. Without any other symptoms, the odour could still indicate an infection or even cancer of the cervix.
If nothing is found after the investigation, then the cause could be natural and in this case, you do not need to do anything apart from reducing it through good hygiene practices. Use of deodorants, herbs or even medicated or perfumed soaps can destabilise the natural small organisms in the vagina, hence causing other infections that may worsen the odour.
Also, you should stop eating foods such as those containing garlic that on their own increase vaginal odour. 
A man’s semen may also cause or worsen vaginal odour, especially if the man has an infection (prostate), has taken long to engage in sexual intercourse or is dehydrated, among other reasons.
Because it causes embarrassment, a bad odour causes anxiety so that even when it is long gone, one may still think they still have it, which requires one to undergo counselling. Some women get a heightened sense of smell at the time of ovulation or pregnancy, a few get it during their period, appreciating even smells that do not exist.