What is tetanus?
Tetanus is an acute, sometimes fatal, disease of the central nervous system, caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacterium, which usually enters the body through an open wound. The tetanus bacterium live in soil and manure, but also can 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 US due to widespread immunization. Fewer than 50 cases every year occur in the US.
How is tetanus transmitted?
Tetanus is not a contagious illness. It occurs in individuals who have had a skin or deep tissue wound or puncture. It is also seen in the umbilical stump of infants in underdeveloped countries. This occurs in places where immunization to tetanus is not widespread and women may not know proper care of the stump after the baby is born. After being exposed to tetanus, it may take between 2 days to 2 months to develop any symptoms. In infants, symptoms may take between 5 days to 2 weeks to develop.
Treatment for tetanus:
Specific treatment for tetanus will be determined by your physician based on:
- your overall health and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference