Tetanus or 'Lockjaw', as it is sometimes known, is an acutely infectious disease caused by a bacteria known as Clostridium tetani. This bacteria affects the nervous system and normally enters the body through open wounds.
These bacteria are anaerobic and spore formers and can be found in dust, soil, vegetation and the intestinal tracts of animals and man. The spores of this bacteria can remain viable for years, especially in the soil and animal feces. This is why it is important for those people who are involved in farming or who work in the garden that they are up to date with their tetanus vaccination.
Tetanus vaccinations are normally given at an early age about 2months in conjunction with other immunizations such as Diphtheria and Polio, and subsequent vaccinations will follow at 4months, 6months, 18 months and then a pre-school booster. Then it is normally advisable to have the vaccine repeated at 16 years of age then followed up every 10 years to maintain protection.
If you are unlucky and catch this disease the early signs are normally, spasm of the jaw muscles, hence the name Lockjaw. This can then be rapidly followed if untreated by spasm in the back muscles causing the back to arch.
Death is possible if the respiratory muscles or the heart muscles are affected. Treatment is normally along the lines of administering anti-toxin drugs and keeping the fever stabilized and the airways open.
This disease is now extremely rare in this country but still can be found in other civilized countries amongst drug users.
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