Tetanus: What are the vital facts?

14 August 2017
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14 August 2017, Comments: 0

Tetanus is a serious but uncommon condition brought about by bacteria that enters a wound. In most cases, those who acquire the condition were not vaccinated against the disease or was not able to finish the vaccination schedule.

How do I get infected?

The tetanus bacteria can survive for an extended period outside the body and typically present in the soil and manure of animals such as cows and horses.

Once the bacteria enter the body via a wound, it rapidly multiplies and releases a toxin that affects the nerves, resulting to symptoms such as muscle spasms and stiffness. Take note that the bacteria can enter the body via:


The indications of tetanus generally develop between 4-21 days after.

  • Burns
  • Scrapes and cuts
  • Eye injuries
  • Animal bites
  • Splits or tears in the skin
  • Tattoos, body piercings and injections
  • Injecting contaminated drugs

What are the indications?

The indications of tetanus generally develop between 4-21 days after. Generally, it arises after 10 days.

The main indications include:

  • Sweating
  • Jaw stiffness that makes it difficult to open the mouth
  • Fever of 38 degrees or higher
  • Painful muscular spasms which makes it hard to swallow and breathe
  • Rapid heartbeat

If not properly treated, the symptoms become worse over the next few hours and days.

Management of tetanus

If the doctor suspects that the individual might develop tetanus but there are no evident symptoms yet, the wound is cleansed and a shot of tetanus immunoglobulin is given. A dose of tetanus vaccine might be given if the individual was not completely vaccinated in the past.

The tetanus immunoglobulin is a medication that includes antibodies that eliminates the tetanus bacteria. It ensures immediate but brief protection against the condition.

In case the individual develops any symptoms, he/she requires hospitalization under an intensive care unit. Once admitted, the individual is given different treatments such as tetanus immunoglobulin, medications for the muscle spasms and stiffness as well as antibiotics.

Generally, most who develop symptoms of tetanus can recover, but it might take several weeks or even months.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on tetanus is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this condition by taking a standard first aid course with Toronto First Aid

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