What is tetanus?
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the brain and nervous system, resulting in extreme painful muscle stiffness (stiffness). Fortunately, a vaccine is available to prevent this disease.
Tetanus is an acute infectious disease caused by bacteria Clostridium tetani. When it gets into a wound, this bacteria produces toxinswhich disrupt the functions of the nervous system and affect body movement.
In addition to being a painful condition, tetanus can cause difficulty breathing and muscle spasms. Tetanus may cause serious complications, such as tightening of the vocal cords, other infections and fractures. The condition can even be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 to 2 in 10 cases of tetanus are fatal.
How does tetanus occur?
Bacterial spores (life stage of bacteria) causing tetanus (Clostridium tetani) are found in nature in places like soil, dust and manure. They usually enter the body through a break in the integrity of the skin, such as a burn, cut, or puncture (including puncture wounds). Once inside the body, the spores develop into bacteria.
Areas of the body are a particularly suitable environment for tetanus bacteria to develop with little oxygen (anaerobic conditions). A deep, narrow wound, such as that caused by a puncture with a contaminated nail, is more likely to develop tetanus. It can take anywhere from a day to months for tetanus to develop after the bacteria enter the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of tetanus develop within 14 days.
When is an emergency tetanus vaccination necessary?
With a severe cut and missed application of a tetanus booster in the last 10 years, it is necessary immediate administration of tetanus vaccine to a nearby hospital or emergency department. It is extremely important that the vaccine is administered soon (within 72 hours) after injury. The injection of the vaccine is done intramuscularly in the upper part of the deltoid muscle of the arm.
Bacteria can enter the body through small cuts, scrapes and scratches. A cut or injury from a metal or rusty object or a deep wound requires immediate medical consultation for a tetanus vaccine. It should be taken into account that cases of tetanus can also occur as a result of burns, animal bites or wounds contaminated by soil or faeces. The tetanus not infected (cannot be passed person to person).
What is the tetanus vaccine?
The tetanus vaccine is given as part of the standard immunization that babies and children receive. The most common version of this vaccine is DTaP, which also protects against diphtheria and whooping cough and is believed to be 100 percent effective. There are three other types of tetanus vaccine, all of which protect against multiple diseases:
- Diphtheria and tetanus vaccine (DT);
- Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine;
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a tetanus vaccination for all ages. Also, because vaccine protection begins to wane over time, revaccinations are recommended every 10 years.
How do tetanus vaccines work?
Tetanus vaccines stimulate the immune system to create immune response. When tetanus toxoid is delivered into the body through vaccination, the immune system responds by making antibodies. Antibodies are proteins in the body that fight specific disease-causing bacteria or other pathogens.
After a tetanus vaccination, the immune system is primed to protect the body when exposed to the bacterium Clostridium tetani. If the bacteria enter the skin, antibodies recognize them and attack them, so the disease cannot be developed. The tetanus vaccine contains inactivated (killed) bacteria. Because the vaccine does not contain live bacteria, it cannot cause the disease.
What are the side effects of the tetanus vaccine?
As with any medicine, the tetanus vaccine carries some risk of side effects. These side effects are usually minor and they go away after a few days. Possible side effects include:
- Muscle pain;
- Soreness at the site of vaccination;
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
What are the risks of getting a tetanus vaccine?
Tetanus vaccines are safe. Complications after vaccination are very rarehowever they may include:
- Allergic reaction to tetanus toxoid or another component of the vaccine;
- Severe muscle weakness and pain;
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears);
- Changes in vision.
Rarely the babies and the children have serious side effects from the DTaP vaccine, such as:
- Persistent, inconsolable crying (usually for more than a few hours);
- Fever over 40 degrees Celsius;
When developing any of these problems is necessary consultation with a doctor.
When should the tetanus vaccine not be given?
In most cases, the administration of the tetanus vaccine is safely. In the case of a previous serious reaction to a tetanus vaccine in the past, a doctor’s consultation is necessary before receiving another dose of the vaccine. Individuals who are allergic to any of the components of the tetanus vaccine should avoid receiving another dose. Before vaccination against tetanus, the patient should inform his doctor if he has:
- Blood coagulation disorder;
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (Guillain-Barre GBS), which is a disorder of the immune system;
- Having seizures in the past;
- History (medical history) of a severe reaction to a pertussis, diphtheria, or tetanus vaccine;
- Problems with the nervous system;
- Recent transplant.
It is also necessary to inform the doctor about all medications, which the given patient is taking. Some medications may interact with the tetanus vaccine, including:
When is tetanus vaccination necessary for adults?
Today, most adults were vaccinated against tetanus as children and only need to maintain booster shots (booster doses). It’s not late giving a tetanus vaccine if this was not done during childhood. Experts recommend tetanus vaccination as an adult if the patient:
- Was not vaccinated as a child;
- Has not received a booster in over 10 years;
- Has a diagnosis of diabetes;
- Is of advanced age;
- He has had tetanus before.
1. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Do I Need a Tetanus Shot?
2. National Health Service (NHS). Tetanus
3. Cleveland Clinic. Tetanus Shot
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tetanus Vaccination