Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by spores of the bacteria Clostridium tetani. These bacteria are widespread and can enter the body through a punctured wound. Tetanus infection is extremely severe and affects the entire body.
Tetanus is commonly called as lockjaw. The people affected with tetanus may have breathing difficulty which may be fatal. There is no specific cure for tetanus. Its treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing complications until the infection resolves.
The following are the signs and symptoms of tetanus:
It takes around 7-10 days for the symptoms to appear after the initial infection.
Tetanus is caused by spores of clostridium tetani which is present in soil, manure and other environmental agents. Spores probably enter the deep flesh wounds and develop into bacteria which release a toxin called tetanospasmin. Tetanospasmin affects the nerves controlling the muscles and the patient may experience muscle spasm and stiffness. It is commonly seen in people who have never taken a tetanus vaccine. It is not a contagious disease.
The following are the risk factors for tetanus:
Complications of tetanus include:
The doctor may confirm tetanus infection in the patient by
There are no lab tests that can confirm tetanus
Tetanus treatment includes:
Antitoxin: The doctor may give tetanus antitoxin such as tetanus immune globulin, which can neutralize the toxin that is bound to nerve tissue.
Antibiotics: They are given orally or by injection to fight tetanus infection.
Vaccine: It is advisable to get vaccinated with tetanus vaccine as soon as tetanus diagnosis is made.
Sedatives: The doctor may recommend sedatives to control muscle spasms.
Other drugs: Other drugs such as magnesium sulfate, beta blockers and morphine maybe given by the doctor to treat the patient symptomatically.
Severe cases of tetanus need to be hospitalized and may require ventilator support to relieve breathing difficulty.
The tetanus infection enters the body through wounds, thus, preventing the development of tetanus spores is vital in the treatment of tetanus. Wound debridement is a procedure in which the doctor may surgically remove dead tissue, foreign material, dirt or manure from the wound.
Tetanus can be prevented with proper immunization. As a part of regular immunization, the children are given the tetanus vaccine as a combination vaccine-diphtheria, tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.
The DTaP vaccine is given in a series of five shots, in the arm or thigh to children at the ages:
The boostervaccine is also given as a combination with a booster of diphtheria vaccine and pertussis [Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine].It is advisable for adolescents to get a dose of Tdap, generally between the ages of 11 and 12, and a Td booster once every ten years thereafter.
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