Tetanus is most common in places that have rich, moist climates. Other things that may raise your risk are:
- Not having an up to date tetanus vaccination
- Injuries such as cuts or burns that have soil or unclean items in it
- Childbirth in places that are not clean
- Long-term wounds, such as a diabetic foot ulcers which have soil or unclean items
- Injection drug use
Care is needed right away. Some people may need help with breathing. Other treatments may include:
- Tetanus immune globulin to stop the tetanus toxin
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Medicine to control muscle spasms, such as benzodiazepines
- Medicine to help the nervous system work better
- Surgery—to open and clean any skin wounds.
A tetanus vaccine may be given to those who have not had a recent one.
The best way to lower the chances of tetanus is to get the vaccination:
- Children should get the DTaP vaccine series.
- A single dose of Tdap vaccine is needed for children aged 11 years or older.
- All adults should also receive one dose of Tdap. Pregnant women should receive a dose of Tdap with every pregnancy. This can help to prevent pertussis in the baby.
- Adults should get a booster dose of the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td) every 10 years.
Other things that can lower the risk are:
- Cleaning all wounds right away
- Seeking care for severe wounds
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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National Foundation for Infectious Diseases http://www.nfid.org
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Tetanus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/tetanus . Updated May 14, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2020.
Tetanus vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/tetanus/default.htm. Updated February 28, 2019. Accessed March 18, 2020.
Thwaites CL, Beeching NJ, et al. Maternal and neonatal tetanus. Lancet. 2015 Jan 24;385(9965):362-370.