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Tetanus

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a serious, bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. If you believe you have tetanus. Contact your doctor.

Tetanus is also called lockjaw.

Symptoms of Tetanus

Symptoms of tetanus usually begin 8 days after the infection, but may range in onset from 3 days to 3 weeks.

The most common symptom of tetanus is muscle spasms in the jaw. Muscle spasm in the jaw are called trismus. The spasms can spread to the muscles of the abdomen, upper arms, and thighs.

Other symptoms of tetanus are:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • stiffness or pain in the muscles of the neck, shoulders, or back
  • fever
  • profuse sweating

What Causes Tetanus?

Tetanus is caused by the bacteria called Clostridium tetani. Clostridium tetani is often found in soil, dust and animal waste.

How is Tetanus Transmitted?

Tetanus is contracted through a cut or wound that becomes contaminated with Clostridium tetani bacteria. The bacteria can get in through even a tiny pinprick or scratch, but deep puncture wounds or cuts like those made by nails or knives are especially susceptible to infection with tetanus.

Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.

Can Tetanus be Prevented?

Yes. Vaccination is the best way to protect against tetanus. In the United States, a combination shot, called the Td vaccine, protects against both tetanus and diphtheria. A Td booster shot is recommended every 10 years. Adults who have never received immunization against tetanus should start with a 3-dose primary series given over 7-12 months.

A post-exposure tetanus prophylaxis is also recommended. A post-exposure tetanus prophylaxis simply means receiving a tetanus vaccination shot after an injury occurs.

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