LiveMD gives you the information that you need on the signs and symptoms of tetanus and how to keep you and your family safe from getting infected.
What is Tetanus?
Tetanus is an infection that is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. Also sometimes referred to as “Lock Jaw”, tetanus is very serious and can affect the central nervous system and the brain. The bacteria that causes this infection creates spores that can be found virtually anywhere but are most common in dust, soil and manure. When these spores enter the body, usually through a wound or opening in the skin, they have a neurotoxic effect which can lead to very severe and life threatening symptoms. There are treatment options available, however they are not always effective.
What are the Symptoms of a Tetanus Infection?
Symptoms will begin to occur anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks after the initial infection has occurred.
The most common symptoms of this infection are:
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Other muscle stiffness/spasms
- Difficulty swallowing
- Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
- Rapid pulse
- In severe cases the spine may arch backwards
How Can I Stay Healthy?
Tetanus is most commonly found in hot, damp, tropical climates. This weather offers the best environment for the Clostridium tetani bacteria to grow and spread. The incidence of this infection is very rare in countries that have thorough vaccination policies however many developing countries are still not yet up to date on ensuring the entire population has been inoculated for tetanus or on using preventative measures to protect against this infection.
One of the most common forms of this infection is called neonatal tetanus and affects newborn babies. If the umbilical cord is cut with an unsterilized or infected utensil, a tetanus infection can occur. It is estimated that close to 200,000 deaths occur each year due to neonatal tetanus infections. This can be prevented by ensuring a clean and sterilized environment during delivery and using a sterilized instrument to cut the umbilical cord.
The best way to prevent tetanus in older children and adults is to get vaccinated every 10 years. By keeping up to date on vaccinations, tetanus infections are easily avoidable and serious complications are extremely rare.
If you would like more information on tetanus infections, how to prevent neonatal tetanus or information on getting the tetanus vaccine, visit us online at www.mylivemd.com. Our doctors can answer all of your questions and give you the best advice available to help you make the most informed decisions about your health.
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