DOH to penitents/flagellants: Go to a doctor after crucifixion; or better still, avoid being nailed to the cross

MANILA — Seek immediate consultation with a doctor after crucifixion, or better still, choose to be tied with a cord around the cross rather than get crucified by nails and risk tetanus infection.

This is the advice given by the Department of Health (DOH) to penitents and flagellants who resort to reenactment of the sufferings of Jesus Christ as part of their observance of the Holy Week, particularly during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

In some places, including Pampanga and Bulacan in Central Luzon, penitents and flagellants do extreme form of sacrifice by mortifying their own flesh by whipping it with various instruments.

Many others carry big wooden cross on their shoulders, while some even choose to be crucified by nails.

The DOH said that when such flagellants and penitents injure themselves, their wounds and cuts may become infected with bacteria commonly found in soil, including the ones that cause tetanus.

Among the symptoms of tetanus infection are fever, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and rapid heat beat.

According to DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin, once a fever sets in, that fever will indicate that possible wound infection is happening in the wounded part/s incurred during the period of exposure or completing the crucifixion process.

“Fever is a sign of infection. So if you feel that you have fever, immediately consult a physician, lalo na kung ikaw ay nagpa-pako at nagpa-whip sa likod,” she said.

She added that fever is an initial indication of possible infection and getting the immediate prevention is needed to avoid a more serious outcome.

To date, there is no exact cure once the tetanus infection condition worsened in a patient.

“Kung pwede, wag nang magpapako…Pwede namang magpatali na lang,” the Health chief suggested.

She said that the injuries that can be caused by tying up oneself with a cord around the cross will be a lot superficial and not too dangerous compared with the wounds that can be sustained from the crucifixion by nails, especially if not well-sterilized.

“Yung pako, hindi talaga pwede dahil may kalawang ‘yan. Anything that may kalawang is dangerous and may bring tetanus infection,” she stressed.

Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani, a kind of bacteria that thrives in contaminated soil, animal feces and other dirty areas.

This condition can result to seizures and severe muscle spasms in the neck, abdomen and limbs and can lead to fatal results such as death.

Patients that are experiencing this sort of condition are usually having difficulty of breathing (aside from the fever), afraid of light and sensitive to any noise.

It is important that people who get wounded by dirty and pointed objects which have rust or exposed to soil materials which can penetrate the open wound be administered with tetanus toxoid within 24 hours.

It is also suggested that the tetanus toxoid be administered prior to crucifixion.

Those who have been administered with it already can also be given a booster shot that will last up to 10 years.

It is important that wounds that may be sustained will be washed and cleansed properly, not left covered, and be exposed to air because bacteria will thrive further in the wound that is not being exposed to open air. Leilani Junio / PNA /