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Stepped on a rusty object? It’s not the rust that’s the problem

You’ve always heard that you should go to the hospital if you step on a rusty nail. At work, you wear heavy-duty boots so that you don’t have to worry about it. When you’re just out and about, you wear the same kinds of footwear as anyone else; you just want to be comfortable.

You weren’t expecting to step on a sharp, rusted object when you were walking into the local mall. There was some construction going on, but it was the last thing you expected. Should you be seriously worried?

The first thing to remember is that getting tetanus from rust is a myth in the majority of cases. The reality is that tetanus usually comes from anerobic bacteria that have gathered in dirt and around rusted objects. Rusty objects have usually been left outside or in places where bacteria are found, but the rust itself isn’t the problem.

Tetanus can still be a risk, but it’s not from the rust. Clostridium tetani may collect wherever there is manure or heavy animal presence. That’s unlikely around a construction site at a mall, but you should still get your tetanus vaccine.

It’s more important for you to seek medical care because of the damage that sharp object could do to your tendons, ligaments and other tissues. When you go to the hospital, the medical provider may want to do surgery or take extra care cleaning out the wound, especially if it is a puncture. Even if you don’t have the risk of tetanus, there are other kinds of bacteria that could get into the wound and cause infection.

Once you seek medical care, remember that you can hold the other parties responsible. If you’re hurt on the mall’s property, the owner or other parties working there could be liable.

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