What is Tetanus?
Tetanus is caused by a neurotoxic spore (a powerful poison that act on nerves of the spinal cord) produced by the tetanus bacterium Clostridium tetani
How is it transmitted?
Tetanus spores contaminating soil, dust or faecal matter enter the human body through a puncture wound, laceration or burn.
C. tetani does not require oxygen to survive; therefore, the presence of dead tissues or a foreign object provides the most favourable condition for the growth and production of the neurotoxin.
Tetanus cannot be transmitted from person to person.
What are the symptoms?
Once an individual is infected with tetanus, it can take 3 days to 3 weeks to develop symptoms.
Symptoms begin with stiffness in the jaw, neck and difficulty swallowing. The individual then experiences stiffness in the arms, legs, and stomach accompanied by painful muscle contractions and spasms. Muscle spasms can be so intense that bones may break.
Further complications include breathing problems, lung infections, coma and death.
Death is highest in infants and the elderly and death rates vary between 10 and 90% depending primarily on the availability of intensive care resources.
Where is Tetanus a concern?
Occurrence of Tetanus is worldwide. Cases are sporadic and relatively uncommon in industrialized countries. In many developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America, the disease remains an important cause of death.
Tetanus can be prevented by immunization.
Source: © All Rights Reserved. Vaccine- Preventable Diseases: Tetanus. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014. Reproduced with permission from the Minister of Health, 2014.