Free Health Care Free Health Care
Main Menu
Bites and Stings
Eye Disorders
General Problems
Infection and Contagious Diseases
Lungs Disorders
Nose Bleeds
Whooping Cough
Colic Baby
Febrile Seizure

Home :: Tetanus


What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a very serious disease. If neglected it may endanger life itself. Another name for tetanus is lockjaw.

An acute disease induced by the exotoxin of Clostridium tetani and clinically characterized by muscular rigidity which persists throughout illness punctuated by painful paroxysmal spasms of the voluntary muscles, especially the masseters (trimus or "lock jaw"), the facial muscels, the musciels of the back and neck and those of lower limbs and abdomen.

Tetanus occurs when a wound becomes infected with bacterial spores of Clostridium tetani. These spores germinate, multiply and produce a very powerful poison which affects the muscles. Some cases of tetanus occur from wounds that are so small they are not noticed. Tetanus is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes painful, uncontrolled muscle spasms. Because of widespread immunization, tetanus is now rare..

Where is Tetanus found ?

Clostridium germs are extremely found in dust and dirt and mud, in the intestines of the human body; and in other places too. Infection enters the body through wounds - such as those caused by a splinter, nail in the boot or a garden fork or following septic infection such as a dirty abrasion.. It is more prone to young children, new borns and elderly population who are not immunized.

What are the causes of tetanus?

Clostridium tetani is the bacteria responsible for the disease. The bacteria are found in 2 forms: as a spore (dormant) or as a vegetative cell (active).

Infection is acquired by contamination of wounds with tetanus spores. The range of injuries and accidents which may lead to tetanus comprise a trivial pin prick, skin abrasion, puncture wounds, burns, human bites, animal bites, and stings, unsterile surgery, intra-uterine death, bowel surgery, dental extraction, injections, unsterile division of umbilical cord, compound fractures, chronic skin ulcers, eye infections.

The sequence of events are; introduction of spores, germination and elaboration of the exotoxin and binding to the receptor.

Symptoms of the Tetanus

First sign of tetanus infection is usually headache and difficulty in opening of mouth due to cramps of the muscles of jaw. This is called "lock jaw". Stiffening can progressively involve the muscles of neck, arms, chest, abdomen and leg. Sometimes there could be seizures associated with severe disease.

An infected person may also have other symptoms : difficulty swallowing, restlessness and irritability, stiff neck, arms or legs, fever, headache, and sore throat. As the disease progresses, the victim may develop a fixed smile and raised eyebrows due to facial muscle spasms. In severe cases, patients may become so sensitive to any kind of disturbance that they suffer painful spasms all over their bodies with profuse sweating if the bed is jarred or if they feel a draft or hear a noise.

Icubation Period

The incubation period is usually 6 to 15 days. However, it may be as short as one day or as long as several months. Long incubation is probably explained by the spores lying dormant in the wounds. Incubation is also prolonged by prophylaxis. Shorter incubation periods are associated with more heavily contaminated wounds.

Diagnosis of Tetanus

The diagnosis is made clinically by the medical history and physical findings. Diagnosis of tetanus is based on the history and physical findings that are characteristic of the disease. Diagnostic studies generally are of little value, as cultures of the wound site are negative for C. tetani two-thirds of the time. When the culture is positive, it confirms the diagnosis of tetanus

Tests that may be performed include the following:

  • Culture of the wound site (may be negative even if tetanus is present)
  • Tetanus antibody test

Treatment of Tetanus

Tetanus is a life-threatening disease that requires immediate hospitalization, usually in an intensive care ward. Antimicrobial drugs, such as penicillin, are used to eradicate the bacteria Treatment can take several weeks and includes antibiotics to kill the bacteria and shots of antitoxin to neutralize the toxin. It also includes anti anxiety drugs to control muscle spasms or barbiturates for sedation. In severe cases, patients are placed on an artificial respirator. Immune globulin, given intramuscularly, is the immediate treatment of unimmunized individuals exposed to material likely to contain the tetanus bacteria. Treatment includes bed rest and quiet conditions. After recovery, since the levels of circulating toxin are quite low, the patient must still be adequately immunized against this disease.

Home Remedies of Tetanus

  • When an animal scratches or bites braking the skin, a number of problems can arise, the most important is infection cause by the animal's saliva. A dog bite may be a minor injury or a severe attack specially in children. If a dog bites you should demand immediately from the dog owner proof of immunization, rabies is very dangerous and it can kill if not treated on time, if the dog is foaming from the mouth is a sign of rabies. If you don't know the owner of the dog, the animal should be catch in order to be tested for diseases.
  • Keeping wounds and scratches clean is important in preventing infection. Since this organism grows only in the absence of oxygen, wounds must be adequately cleaned of dead tissue and foreign substances. Run cool water over the wound and wash it with a mild soap. Dry it with a clean cloth or sterile gauze. To help prevent infection, apply an antibiotic cream or ointment and cover the wound with a bandage. The longer a wound takes to heal, the greater the chance of infection. If the wound doesn't heal, or, it is red, warm, drains, or swells, consult a doctor.
  • Wash the dog bite thoroughly with warm water and soap for more then 5 minutes to remove the saliva rinse with cold water and place a gauze on it.
  • Take Vitamin C it helps fight infection.
  • If the bite is big, see a doctor it may be necessary to be stitched.

Prevention of Tetanus

Tetanus is a rare disease in the United States , which predominantly affects the elderly and who have a lower prevalence of tetanus immunity compared with younger age groups. A large proportion of the elderly have not received primary immunization for tetanus and do not receive recommended tetanus booster immunizations. Although expert panels support immunization of all persons, without an upper age limit, physicians either are unaware of or do not act on recommendations to immunize the elderly. Improved education of physicians and patients, emphasizing a case-finding approach, may reduce the number of tetanus cases in the elderly.

There is inoculation to prevent Tetanus. These DPT inoculations should be administered to children in 3 courses-

  • when the child is 3 months old
  • when the chilld is 4 months old.
  • When it is 5 months old.

The DPT injections are effective in Diptheria, whooping, cough and Tetanus. After the first injection the 2 nd injection to be taken 2 years later and another 5 years later as is very necessary and not to be missed.


Home || Feedback ||

(c)Copyright All rights reserved.

Disclaimer : All information on is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, please consult your qualified health care provider. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site.