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Tetanus

What is Tetanus? (CDC.com)

Tetanus is an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. Spores of tetanus bacteria are everywhere in the environment, including soil, dust, and manure. The spores develop into bacteria when they enter the body.

Tetanus is different from other vaccine-preventable diseases because it does not spread from person to person. The bacteria are usually found in soil, dust, and manure and enter the body through breaks in the skin ā€” usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects.

Symptoms:

  • Jaw cramping
  • Sudden, involuntary muscle tightening (muscle spasms) ā€” often in the stomach
  • Painful muscle stiffness all over the body
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Jerking or staring (seizures)
  • Headache
  • Fever and sweating
  • Changes in blood pressure and heart rate

Tetanus Health Risks

Serious health problems that can happen because of tetanus include:

  • Uncontrolled/involuntary tightening of the vocal cords (laryngospasm)
  • Broken bones (fractures)
  • Infections gotten by a patient during a hospital visit (hospital-acquired infections)
  • Blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a blood clot that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (pulmonary embolism)
  • Pneumonia, a lung infection, that develops by breathing in foreign materials (aspiration pneumonia)
  • Breathing difficulty, possibly leading to death (1 to 2 in 10 cases are fatal)

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Should I Get Vaccinated?

CDC recommends the tetanus vaccine for people of all ages.

  • Most people who get a tetanus vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. However, side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities

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