Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, or manure. The bacteria enters a person's body through a break in the skin. Once inside the bacteria makes a toxin that causes tetanus.
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Tetanus is most common in places that have rich, moist climates. Other things that may raise a person's risk are:
- Not having an up to date tetanus vaccination
- Injuries such as cuts or burns that have soil or unclean items in them
- Giving birth in places that are not clean
- Lasting wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers that are contaminated with soil or unclean items
- Injection drug use
A person with tetanus may have:
- A stiff, cramping jaw or neck
- Muscle spasms, often in the belly
- Muscle stiffness
- Problems being able to swallow and breathe
- Jerking movements
- Staring off
Care is needed right away. Some people may need help with breathing. Other treatments may include:
- Medicine to:
- Stop the tetanus toxin
- Treat an infection
- Control muscle spasms
- 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 vaccine:
- Children should get the DTaP vaccine series. DTaP also contains vaccines for the diseases diphtheria and pertussis.
- A single dose of Tdap vaccine is needed for children aged 11 years or more. This vaccine, which is made for older kids and adults, also protects again pertussis and diphtheria.
- 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 the baby from getting pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.
- Adults should get a booster dose of the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td) or Tdap every 10 years.
Other things that can lower the risk of tetanus 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.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services
All rights reserved.