Tetanus

Tetanus (Lockjaw)

Tetanus

Tetanus is an uncommon but very dangerous disease — of every 10 people who get it, as many as 2 will die. Thanks in part to tetanus vaccines, deaths from tetanus in the United States have dropped by 99% since 1947.

There are 4 vaccines that include protection against tetanus:

  • The DTaP vaccine protects young children from diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough
  • The DT vaccine protects young children from diphtheria and tetanus
  • The Tdap vaccine protects preteens, teens, and adults from tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough
  • The Td vaccine protects preteens, teens, and adults from tetanus and diphtheria

Why are tetanus vaccines important? 

Because of the vaccines, tetanus is rare — but people still get the disease. When they do, the complications can be serious and even deadly. People who get it can have trouble breathing and painful muscle spasms that are strong enough to break bones. Tetanus can also cause paralysis (not being able to move).

There’s no cure for tetanus. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent tetanus.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is caused by a type of bacteria. You may have heard tetanus called “lockjaw” — that’s because one of the most common signs is painful tightening in the jaw muscles that can make it hard to open the mouth, breathe, or swallow.

Other symptoms of tetanus can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever and sweating
  • Stiff muscles
  • Seizures (sudden, unusual movements or behavior)
  • High blood pressure and fast heart rate

Tetanus isn’t contagious — it doesn’t pass from person to person, through touching or kissing. The bacteria that cause tetanus can be in dirt, dust, and poop. Usually, the bacteria enter the body through broken skin, :

  • A deep cut or wound, from stepping on a nail
  • Burns or dead skin

Learn more about tetanus.

Who needs to get tetanus vaccines? 

Everyone needs tetanus vaccines throughout their lives. That means everyone needs to get vaccinated as babies, children, and adults.

Infants and children birth through age 6

Young children need the DTaP vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule. Young children need a dose of the vaccine at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 through 18 months
  • 4 through 6 years

If your child has had a serious reaction to the whooping cough part of the DTaP vaccine, they may be able to get the DT vaccine instead. Your child’s doctor can recommend the vaccine that’s right for your child.

See the routine vaccination schedule for:

  • Infants and children
  • Preteens and teens
  • Adults

Preteens and teens ages 7 through 18

Older children need 1 booster shot of the Tdap vaccine at age 11 or 12 as part of their routine vaccine schedule.

If your child misses the booster shot, talk with your child’s doctor about catching up.

Adults age 19 and older

Adults need 1 booster shot of the Td vaccine every 10 years as part of their routine vaccine schedule. If you get a deep cut or a burn, you may need the booster earlier — especially if the cut or burn is dirty.

If you missed the Tdap booster as a teen, you’ll need to get a Tdap booster instead to make sure you have protection from whooping cough.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women need 1 booster shot of the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of each pregnancy.

Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from tetanus.

Who should not get tetanus vaccines?

You should not get a tetanus vaccine if you:

  • Have a serious allergy to any ingredient in the vaccine
  • Have had a serious reaction to the diphtheria, tetanus, or whooping cough vaccines in the past

Be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you:

  • Have seizures or other nervous system problems
  • Had serious pain or swelling after any diphtheria, tetanus, or whooping cough vaccine
  • Have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (an immune system disorder)

If you’re sick, you may need to wait until you’re feeling better to get a tetanus vaccine.

What are the side effects of tetanus vaccines?

Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given
  • Low fever and chills
  • Headache and body aches
  • Feeling tired
  • Upset stomach, throwing up, and diarrhea (watery poop)
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Fussing (in children)

It’s very rare, but the DTaP vaccine can cause the following symptoms in children:

  • Seizures (about 1 child in 14,000)
  • Non-stop crying, for 3 hours or more (up to about 1 child in 1,000)
  • High fever, over 105°F (about 1 child in 16,000)

any medicine, there's a very small chance that tetanus vaccines could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting a tetanus vaccine is much safer than getting tetanus. Learn more about vaccine side effects.

Where can I get more information about tetanus vaccines? 

Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines. Read the VISs for vaccines that protect against tetanus:

  • DTaP vaccine — protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (for infants and children)
  • Tdap vaccine — protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (for preteens, teens, and adults)
  • Td vaccine — protects against diphtheria and tetanus (for preteens, teens, and adults)

Find the VISs for these vaccines in other languages.

Last Reviewed: January 2020

Source: https://www.vaccines.gov/diseases/tetanus

Tetanus

Tetanus

Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is a serious disease that affects the muscles and nerves.

The good news is that it's rare in the United States because all babies are vaccinated against it. The disease is much more common in developing countries than it is in the United States.

What Causes Tetanus?

Tetanus is caused by a type of called Clostridium tetani that usually live in soil. The bacteria make a toxin (a chemical or poison that harms the body). This toxin attaches to nerves around a wound area and travels inside the nerves to the brain or spinal cord. There it interferes with the normal activity of nerves, especially the motor nerves that send direct messages to muscles.

In the United States, most cases of tetanus follow a contaminated cut or deep puncture injury, such as a wound caused by stepping on a nail. Sometimes the injury is so small the person never even sees a doctor.

Tetanus is most common in:

  • injuries that involve dead skin, such as burns, frostbite, gangrene, or crush injuries
  • wounds contaminated with soil, saliva (spit), or feces, especially if not cleaned well
  • skin punctures from nonsterile needles, such as with drug use or self-performed tattooing or body piercing

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Tetanus?

Tetanus often begins with muscle spasms in the jaw (called trismus). Someone also can have trouble swallowing and stiffness or pain in the muscles of the neck, shoulders, or back. The spasms can spread to the muscles of the belly, upper arms, and thighs. The symptoms can happen days to months after exposure to the bacteria.

How Is Tetanus Treated?

Someone who has tetanus will be treated in a hospital, usually in the intensive care unit (ICU). There, they usually get to kill bacteria and tetanus immune globulin (TIG) to neutralize the toxin already released. They'll also get medicines to control muscle spasms and may need treatment to support vital body functions.

Can Tetanus Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent tetanus is to make sure that your immunizations against it are up-to-date. You should have had:

  • a series of four doses of DTaP vaccine before 2 years of age
  • another dose at 4–6 years of age
  • a booster (Tdap) at 11–12 years of age, or later if it was missed

Then, you should have a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years through adulthood.

You can also help prevent tetanus by protecting the bottoms of your feet against deep or dirty wounds (such as being punctured by a nail). Wear thick-soled shoes or sandals instead of going barefoot, especially when outdoors.

If you do get a wound:

  • Keep it clean.
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibacterial or antiseptic treatment.
  • Change the dressing once a day.
  • Ask your parent or doctor whether you need a tetanus shot.

See your doctor for any deep puncture wounds, especially on the bottom of a foot. These are more ly to become infected without proper treatment.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

If you're not sure whether you've had all your tetanus vaccinations, ask a parent or call your doctor. If it's been more than 10 years since you had a Td booster, see your doctor as soon as possible to bring your immunizations up to date.

If you get a deep cut or puncture wound and it's been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot, see the doctor because you might need a tetanus booster to make sure that you're fully immunized.

No one s shots, but getting tetanus is more painful and long lasting than a shot. So make sure that your tetanus immunization status is up to date, and if you get a bad cut, see your doctor in case you need a booster.

Source: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/tetanus.html

What Is Neonatal Tetanus?

Another form of tetanus, neonatal tetanus, happens in newborns born in unsanitary conditions, especially if the umbilical cord stump becomes contaminated. Routine immunizations and sanitary cord care have made newborn tetanus very rare in developed countries.

What Is Tetanus? Treatment, Prevention, Causes, Symptoms, Vaccine & Side Effects

Tetanus

Picture of Clostridium tetani, with spore formation (oval forms at end of rods). Source: CDC/Dr. Holdeman

  • Tetanus is frequently a fatal infectious disease.
  • Tetanus is caused by a type of bacteria (Clostridium tetani).
  • The tetanus bacteria often enter the body through a puncture wound, which can be caused by nails, splinters, insect bites, burns, any skin break, and injection-drug sites.
  • All children and adults should be immunized against tetanus by receiving vaccinations.
  • A tetanus booster is needed every 10 years after primary immunization or after a puncture or other skin wound that could provide an entry point for the tetanus bacteria to enter the body.

What is tetanus?

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Tetanus is an acute, often-fatal disease of the nervous system that is caused by nerve toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is found throughout the world in the soil and in animal and human intestines. The bacterium can also lay dormant in its spore form for years before becoming activated and developing into a regularly reproducing bacterium.

Where do tetanus bacteria grow in the body?

Contaminated wounds are sites where tetanus bacteria multiply. Deep wounds or those with dead tissue are particularly prone to tetanus infection.

Puncture wounds, such as those caused by nails, splinters, or insect bites, are favorite locations of entry for the bacteria. The bacteria can also be introduced through burns, any break in the skin, and injection-drug sites. Tetanus can also be a hazard to both the mother and newborn child (by means of the uterus after delivery and through the umbilical cord stump).

The potent toxin that is produced when the tetanus bacteria multiply is the major cause of harm from tetanus.

How does the tetanus toxin cause damage to the body?

The tetanus toxin affects the interaction between the nerve and the muscle that it stimulates, specifically at the neuromuscular junction.

The tetanus toxin amplifies the chemical signal from the nerve to the muscle, which causes the muscles to tighten up in a continuous (“tetanic” or “tonic”) contraction or spasm. This results in either localized or generalized muscle spasms.

Tetanus toxin can affect neonates to cause muscle spasms, inability to nurse, and seizures. This typically occurs within the first two weeks after birth and can be associated with poor sanitation methods in caring for the umbilical cord stump of the neonate.

Of note, because of tetanus vaccination programs, first introduced in the late 1940s, tetanus infection rates have dropped substantially. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, there have only been three cases of neonatal tetanus reported in the U.S. since 2000.

In each of these cases, the mothers were incompletely immunized. Unfortunately, throughout the world, tetanus is still common. In 2014, there were over 2,000 cases of neonatal tetanus and over 9,000 cases of non-neonatal tetanus. In comparison, there were 114,000 overall cases reported in 1980.

DTap and Tdap vaccination schedule is:

  • Infants are commonly given the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine in a schedule of four doses at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age.
  • Another dose is administered at 4 to 6 years of age.
  • A single dose of Tdap is recommended for children at the 11- to 12-year-old checkup.

Read on to find out more about tetanus shots »

What is the incubation period for tetanus?

The incubation period between exposure to the bacteria in a contaminated wound and development of the initial symptoms of tetanus ranges from two days to two months, but it's commonly within 14 days of injury.

What is the course of tetanus? What are tetanus symptoms and signs?

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During a one- to seven-day period, progressive muscle spasms caused by the tetanus toxin in the immediate wound area may progress to involve the entire body in a set of continuous muscle contractions. Restlessness, headache, and irritability are common.

The tetanus neurotoxin causes the muscles to tighten up into a continuous (“tetanic” or “tonic”) contraction or spasm. The jaw is “locked” by muscle spasms, giving the name “lockjaw” (also called “trismus”).

Muscles throughout the body are affected, including the vital muscles necessary for normal breathing. When the breathing muscles lose their power, breathing becomes difficult or impossible and death can occur without life-support measures (mechanical ventilation).

Even with breathing support, infections of the airways within the lungs can lead to death.

Is tetanus contagious?

Tetanus is not contagious. You cannot “catch” tetanus from another infected individual. That means one person cannot be infected by another individual by coming in contact with secretions or other exposures. The bacterial spores must enter a wound to develop into an infection.

What is the treatment for tetanus?

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General measures to treat the sources of the bacterial infection with antibiotics and drainage are carried out in the hospital while the patient is monitored for any signs of compromised breathing muscles.

Treatment is directed toward stopping toxin production, neutralizing its effects, and controlling muscle spasms. Sedation is often given for muscle spasm, which can lead to life-threatening breathing difficulty.

In more severe cases, breathing assistance with an artificial respirator machine may be needed.

The toxin already circulating in the body is neutralized with antitoxin drugs. The tetanus toxin causes no permanent damage to the nervous system after the patient recovers.

After recovery, patients still require active immunization because having the tetanus disease does not provide natural immunization against a repeat episode.

Bacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments See Slideshow

How is tetanus diagnosed, and what is the prognosis of tetanus?

The diagnosis of tetanus is made clinically, a patient's history of exposure such as stepping on a rusty nail in the backyard, and by the symptoms present, such as “lockjaw,” difficulty swallowing, fever, and generalized muscle spasms.

Once diagnosed and treated, the prognosis is generally good if the patient receives appropriate care early in the illness.

The toxin does no permanent damage, and patients who receive appropriate supportive care generally recover.

Sometimes symptoms develop rapidly, and some people live in remote areas where they are not able to receive appropriate care and are at a higher risk of death from tetanus.

Is it possible to prevent tetanus?

Active immunization (“tetanus vaccine”) plays an essential role in preventing tetanus. Preventative measures to protect the skin from being penetrated by the tetanus bacteria are also important.

For instance, precautions should be taken to avoid stepping on nails by wearing shoes. If a penetrating wound should occur, it should be thoroughly cleansed with soap and water and medical attention should be sought.

Finally, passive immunization can be administered in selected cases (with specialized immunoglobulin).

What is the schedule for active immunization (tetanus shots)?

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All children should be immunized against tetanus by receiving a series of five DTaP vaccinations, which generally are started at 2 months of age and completed at approximately 5 years of age. Booster vaccination is recommended at 11 years of age with Tdap.

Follow-up booster vaccination is recommended every 10 years thereafter. While a 10-year period of protection exists after the basic childhood series is completed, should a potentially contaminated wound occur, an “early” booster may be given in selected cases and the 10-year “clock” resets.

What are the side effects of tetanus immunization?

Side effects of tetanus immunization occur in approximately 25% of vaccine recipients. The most frequent side effects are usually quite mild (and familiar) and include soreness, swelling, and/or redness at the site of the injection. More significant reactions are extraordinarily rare. The incidence of this particular reaction increases with decreasing interval between boosters.

What is passive immunization (by way of specialized immunoglobulin)?

In individuals who exhibit the early symptoms of tetanus or in those whose immunization status is unknown or significantly date, the tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG) is given into the muscle surrounding the wound with the remainder of the dose given into the buttocks.

Medically Reviewed on 12/19/2019

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. “Tetanus (Lockjaw).” In: Pickering, L.K., ed. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009.

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Switzerland. World Health Organization. “Diphtheria Reported Cases.” July 15, 2015. .

Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/tetanus/article.htm

Tetanus: Background, Pathophysiology, Etiology

Tetanus

Author

Patrick B Hinfey, MD Emergency Medicine Residency Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

Patrick B Hinfey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, Wilderness Medical Society, American College of Emergency Physicians, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Jill Ripper, MD, MS Residency Director, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

Jill Ripper, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Christian August Engell, MD Attending Physician, Department of Infectious Diseases, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

Christian August Engell, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Infectious Diseases Society of America, Infectious Diseases Society of New Jersey

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Keith N Chappell, MD Administrative Chief Resident, Junior Attending Resident, Department of Emergency Medicine, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

Disclosure: Received salary from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center for employment.

Chief Editor

John L Brusch, MD, FACP Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Consulting Staff, Department of Medicine and Infectious Disease Service, Cambridge Health Alliance

John L Brusch, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Leslie L Barton, MD Professor Emerita of Pediatrics, University of Arizona College of Medicine

Leslie L Barton, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of Pediatric Program Directors, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Richard B Brown, MD, FACP Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Baystate Medical Center; Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine

Richard B Brown, MD, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Massachusetts Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Daniel J Dire, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FAAEM Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Texas Medical School at Houston; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Sciences Center San Antonio

Daniel J Dire, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FAAEM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, and Association of Military Surgeons of the US

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Theodore J Gaeta, DO, MPH, FACEP Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College; Vice Chairman and Program Director of Emergency Medicine Residency Program, Department of Emergency Medicine, New York Methodist Hospital; Academic Chair, Adjunct Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, St George's University School of Medicine

Theodore J Gaeta, DO, MPH, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: Alliance for Clinical Education, American College of Emergency Physicians, Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine, Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors, New York Academy of Medicine, and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rosemary Johann-Liang, MD Medical Officer, Infectious Diseases and Pediatrics, Division of Special Pathogens and Immunological Drug Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration

Rosemary Johann-Liang, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Eleftherios Mylonakis, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Eleftherios Mylonakis is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society for Microbiology, and Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Sonali Ray, MD Resident Physician, Department of Family Practice, Capital Health System, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gregory William Rutecki, MD Professor of Medicine, Fellow of The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, University of South Alabama College of Medicine

Gregory William Rutecki, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, American Society of Nephrology, National Kidney Foundation, and Society of General Internal Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Russell W Steele, MD Head, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Ochsner Children's Health Center; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Tulane University School of Medicine

Russell W Steele, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Immunologists, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Louisiana State Medical Society, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Pediatric Research, and Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

Robert W Tolan Jr, MD Chief, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Children's Hospital at Saint Peter's University Hospital; Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Drexel University College of Medicine

Robert W Tolan Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and Physicians for Social Responsibility

Disclosure: Novartis Honoraria Speaking and teaching

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Source: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/229594-overview

Articles

Tetanus
ABOUT CAUSES DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT

Tetanus is a sometimes fatal disease of the central nervous system. It's caused by a poison (toxin) made by the tetanus bacterium. The bacterium usually enters the body through an open wound. Tetanus bacteria live in soil and manure. They can also be found in the human intestine and other places.

  • Tetanus occurs more often in warmer climates or during the warmer months.
  • Tetanus is very uncommon in the U.S. due to widespread immunization.

Tetanus is caused by the toxin of the bacterium clostridium tetani. It’s not spread from person to person. It occurs in people who have had a skin or deep tissue wound or puncture. It’s also seen in the umbilical stump of infants in developing countries.

This occurs in places where vaccines for tetanus are not widespread and where parents may not know how to care for the stump after the baby is born. After a person is exposed to tetanus, it may take from 3 to 21 days for symptoms to develop. On average, symptoms appear around day 8.

In infants, symptoms may take from 3 days to 2 weeks to develop.

These are the most common symptoms of tetanus:

  • Stiff jaw (also called lockjaw)
  • Stiff abdominal and back muscles
  • Contraction of the facial muscles
  • Fast pulse
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Painful muscle spasms, especially near the wound area (if these affect the throat or chest wall, breathing may be stopped)
  • Trouble swallowing

These symptoms may look other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and do a physical exam.

Your healthcare provider will decide on treatment :

  • How old you are
  • Your overall health and past health
  • How sick you are
  • How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • How long the condition is expected to last
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment for tetanus (or to reduce the risk of tetanus after an injury) may include:

  • Medicines to control spasms
  • Thorough cleaning of the wound
  • Antitoxin injections
  • Use of a ventilator (breathing machine) if you have trouble breathing on your own 
  • Antibiotics
  • Other medicines to control pain and other symptoms such as a fast heartbeat

Complications of tetanus can include:

  • Vocal cord spasms
  • Broken bones due to severe muscle spasms
  • Breathing problems
  • Pneumonia
  • High blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythms 
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)

A DTaP shot is a combination vaccine that protects against 3 diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The CDC recommends that children get 5 DTaP shots. The first 3 shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.

Between 15 and 18 months of age, the child gets the fourth shot. A fifth shot is given when a child enters school at 4 to 6 years of age. At regular checkups for 11- or 12-year-olds, a preteen should get a dose of Tdap.

The Tdap booster is a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine.

If an adult did not get a Tdap as a preteen or teen, that person should get a dose of Tdap instead of the Td booster. Adults should get a Td booster every 10 years. But it can be given before the 10-year mark. Always see your healthcare provider for advice.

If you get a wound from an object that is contaminated with dirt, animal feces, or manure, you should see your healthcare provider. You may need a tetanus booster shot if it has been more than 5 years since your previous vaccination or you can’t remember your last vaccination.

If you have any of the symptoms listed in the symptoms section, get medical care right away. Tetanus requires urgent attention.

Key points about tetanus

  • Tetanus is an acute disease of the central nervous system. It is sometimes fatal. It is caused by the toxin of the bacterium clostridium tetani.
  • The bacterium clostridium tetani usually enters the body through an open wound.
  • Tetanus bacteria live in soil and manure. It can also be found in the human intestine and other places.
  • Symptoms of tetanus may include stiffness in the jaw and the abdominal and back muscles. It may also cause a fast pulse, fever, sweating, painful muscle spasms, and trouble swallowing.
  • The tetanus vaccine can reduce the risk of the disease after an injury.
  • Tetanus requires medical care right away. Treatment may include medicines and antitoxin injections.

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/t/tetanus.html

Tetanus Questions and Answers

Tetanus

Often called lockjaw, tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and can lead to death. The tetanus vaccine has made tetanus a preventable disease. Thanks to its widespread use, lockjaw has become very rare in the U.S. Even so, many adults in the U.S. need to be vaccinated against tetanus because there is no cure and 10% to 20% of victims will die.

You cannot get tetanus from another person. You can get it through a cut or other wound. Tetanus bacteria are commonly present in soil, dust, and manure. The tetanus bacteria can infect a person even through a tiny scratch. But you are more ly to get tetanus through deep punctures from wounds created by nails or knives. The bacteria travel via blood or nerves to the central nervous system.

Tetanus symptoms result from a toxin produced by tetanus bacteria. Symptoms often begin around a week after infection. But this may range from three days to three weeks or even longer. The most common symptom is a stiff jaw, which can become “locked.” This is how the disease came to be called lockjaw.

Symptoms of tetanus may include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle stiffness, starting in the jaw, then the neck and the arms, legs, or abdomen
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Sweating and fever
  • Palpitations and high blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms in the face, causing a strange-looking steady smile or grin

If not treated, tetanus can cause death from suffocation.

You normally receive tetanus shots in the deltoid (shoulder) muscle.

If you did not receive a tetanus vaccine as a child, you should start with a three-dose primary series with the first dose being a three-in-one combination called Tdap that protects against tetanus, diphtheria (Td) and pertussis (whooping cough).

The other two doses are a dual vaccine (Td) cover tetanus and diphtheria. You receive these vaccines over a period of seven to 12 months. Vaccination against pertussis is especially important for those in direct contact with young infants or patients.

After receiving the primary series, get a Td booster every 10 years.

You should have a tetanus shot if you:

  • Did not receive a primary series of tetanus shots as a child
  • Have not had a tetanus booster in the last 10 years
  • Have recovered from tetanus

You should not get a Tdap vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction after a previous Tdap vaccine. You also should not get a Tdap vaccine if you have a history of coma or seizures within a week following a previous Tdap vaccine.

Talk to your doctor if you have a history of epilepsy or other nervous system problems, severe pain or swelling in the past after a previous tetanus vaccine, or a history of either Guillain-Barre syndrome or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

It is OK to receive the tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. In fact, current guidelines recommend that all pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, specifically to prevent pertussis.

Wait to get the Tdap vaccine if you have a moderate to severe acute illness.

The vaccines are made up of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis toxins that have been made nontoxic but they still have the ability to create an immune response. These vaccines do not contain live bacteria.

It's important to know that, in general, the risk of problems from getting tetanus is much greater than from getting a tetanus vaccine. You cannot get tetanus from the tetanus shot. However, sometimes the tetanus vaccine can cause mild side effects. These may include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of the injection
  • Fever
  • Headache or body aches
  • Fatigue

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is also very rare, but can result within minutes of being vaccinated. Symptoms may include:

If you have any signs of a severe reaction:

  • Call 911 or get to a hospital right away.
  • Describe when you had the vaccine and what occurred.
  • Have a health care professional report the reaction.

SOURCES:

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases: “Facts About Tetanus for Adults” and “Tetanus.”

Immunization Action Coalition: “Tetanus Vaccine.”

CDC: “Tetanus and Pertussis Vaccination Coverage among Adults Aged 18 Years and Older – United States, 1999 and 2008,” “Preventing Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Among Adults: Use of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine,” and “Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/tetanus-vaccine

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