Treatment may include:
- Hospitalization—to manage complications of the infection
- Opening and cleaning the wound—entire wounded area may need to be surgically removed
- Antibiotics to fight the bacteria
- Tetanus immune globulin—antibodies against tetanus that help neutralize the tetanus toxin
- A tetanus shot—if your tetanus vaccine is not up to date
- Medication to treat symptoms—may include antiseizure medication or muscle relaxants
Tetanus can cause severe problems with breathing or swallowing. A breathing tube may be inserted in the throat. This will help keep the airway open until you heal. A surgical procedure called a tracheotomy may be done. This will provide an open airway if your upper airway cannot be accessed.
The best means of prevention is immunization. The immunization schedule for tetanus is as follows:
- All children, with few exceptions should receive the, DTaP vaccine series. This protects against diphtheria , tetanus, and pertussis .
- A single dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended for children aged 11 years or older, even if they did not receive the DTaP.
- Adults should receive a booster dose of the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td) every 10 years. They may also receive this vaccine after an exposure to tetanus. It is not harmful to receive a tetanus vaccination earlier than 10 years.
If you or your child has not been fully vaccinated, talk to the doctor. There are catch-up schedules available.
In addition to the vaccine, you can prevent tetanus by taking proper care of wounds:
- Promptly clean all wounds.
- See your doctor for medical care of 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.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services
All rights reserved.
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
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 566: Update on immunization and pregnancy: Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccination. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(6):1411-1414. Reaffirmed 2015.
Strikas RA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), ACIP Child/Adolescent Immunization Work Group. Advisory committee on immunization practices recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years—United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(4):93-94.
Tetanus. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114650/Tetanus . Updated May 17, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Tetanus (lockjaw) vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/tetanus/default.htm. Updated November 22, 2016. Accessed October 2, 2017.
1/24/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114650/Tetanus : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated recommendations for use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (tdap) vaccine from the advisory committee on immunization practices, 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(1):13-15.
11/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114650/Tetanus : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated recommendations for use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) in pregnant women and persons who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant aged <12 months—Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60:1424-1426.
4/1/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114650/Tetanus : Bridges CB, Coyne-Beasley T, et al. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014. 63(7):110-112.