It's a dangerous day, the Fourth of July. This makes sense. After all, it is a holiday that tradition dictates be celebrated with explosives. As John Adams prophesied to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, Independence Day "ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
He was actually referring to July 2, the date when the Continental Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence. But no matter, the holiday is more or less celebrated with the vigor Adams prescribed. Sixty percent of all fireworks injuries occur on or around July 4. And in 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association, 9,600 people were admitted to emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.
That's bad, but at least the Fourth of July is no longer followed by a deadly outbreak of tetanus, right?
In 1910, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a seven-year study on Fourth of July injuries, and the curious correlation of the nervous-system disease tetanus with the holiday. It's a bacterial infection that releases a neurotoxin that produces muscle spasms, which are not pleasant.