Tetanus is a serious, acute condition that is caused by infection with a
bacterium (Clostridium tetani). The bacteria are often found in soil,
dust, and manure. The incubation period is 4 to 21 days.
- Cephalic tetanus
Primarily affects the muscles of the face only.
- Generalized tetanus
Affects all skeletal muscles. Most common and most severe form.
- Local tetanus
Manifests with muscle spasms at or near the wound that has been
infected with the bacteria.
- Neonatal tetanus
Is identical to generalized tetanus except that it affects neonates
(less than 1 month old) only.
Causes of Tetanus
- Abrasions and lacerations
- Animal bites
- Body piercing and tattoos
- Injury or wound
- Intravenous drug use
- Not being immunized against tetanus
Symptoms and signs
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle rigidity and spasms.
- Sudden, powerful, and painful contractions of muscle
groups(tetany). These episodes can cause fractures and
- Uncontrolled defecation
- Urine incontinence
- Muscle cramps
- Risus sardonicus
- Sore muscles
- Spasms of respiratory muscles
- Spasms of the vocal cords
- Progresses to generalized tetanus
- Muscle spasms occur at or near the site of the injury.
- Progresses to generalized tetanus.
- Poor sucking ability
Blood test to identify the tetanus bacteria.
- Bed rest with a non-stimulating environment
- Dim light
- Reduced noise
- Stable temperature
- Tetanus immune globulin
- Muscle relaxers
- Breathing support with ventilators
- Acute renal failure
- Bone fractures
- Brain damage
- Heart failure
- Respiratory failure
- Tetanus is completely preventable by active tetanus immunization. Immunization is thought to provide protection for 10 years.
- Older teenagers and adults who have sustained injuries, especially
puncture-type wounds, should receive booster immunization for
tetanus if more than 10 years have passed since the last booster.
- Debridement reduces the risk of developing tetanus.