Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is a serious infection caused by Clostridium tetani this bacterium produces a toxin that affects the brain and nervous system, leading to stiffness in the muscles.
- Infection often causes muscle contractions in the jaw and neck, but it can eventually spread to other parts of the body
- Clostridium tetani spores are deposited in a wound, the neurotoxin interferes with nerves that control muscle movement
- The infection can cause severe muscle spasms, serious breathing difficulties, and can ultimately be fatal.
Symptoms of infection:
- Symptoms of tetanus usually arrange around 7-10 days of initial infection, but in some cases it can takes weeks or even months.
- Symptoms usually starts from muscle spasms and muscle stiffness, and stiffness usually starts with the chewing muscles and then it spread to neck and throat, where patient have difficulty swallowing.
- It can also cause breathing difficulties due to chest and neck muscle difficulties.
- Spine and back muscle may also get affected to due the infection.
- Other symptoms other than muscles may include:
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
Causes of tetanus:
- Bacteria called Clostridium tetani cause tetanus. Spores of the bacteria can be found in dust, dirt, and animal droppings.
- Spores are small reproductive bodies produced by certain organisms. They are often very resistant to harsh environmental conditions, like high heat.
- A person can become infected when these spores enter the bloodstream through a cut or deep wound.
- The bacteria spores then spread to the central nervous system and produce a toxin called tetanospasmin. This toxin is a poison that blocks the nerve signals from your spinal cord to your muscles
The infection can be associated with:
Treatment of tetanus:
Certain treatments for tetanus may include:
- Cleaning the wound to get rid of the source of the bacteria. In some cases, a surgical procedure called debridement is used to remove dead or infected tissue.
- Antibiotics like penicillin to kill the bacteria in your system
- Tetanus immune globulin (TIG) to neutralize the toxins that the bacteria have created in your body
- Muscle relaxers to control muscle spasms
- A tetanus vaccine is given along with the treatment
- I case a person having difficulty swallowing and breathing, he/she may need a breathing tube or ventilator (a machine that moves air in and out of the lungs).
Diagnosis of tetanus:
- A physical examination is done by the doctor who checks for muscle stiffness and painful spasms.
- No lab test is needed for the diagnosis of tetanus, but in some cases, lab test are done to rule out meningitis (bacterial infection that affects brain and spinal cord) and rabies (causes brain swelling).
Prevention of tetanus:
Vaccination is the only way for the prevention of tetanus. But the booster may be taken in right time.
- A tetanus booster is given to a child for 5 times during the age of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years
- A booster is normally given between the age of 11-14 years
- Then another booster for every 10 years.