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Tetanus

Summary

Tetanus is a serious illness caused by Clostridium bacteria. The bacteria live in soil, saliva, dust, and manure. The bacteria can enter the body through a deep cut, like those you might get from stepping on a nail, or through a burn.

The infection causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw. This makes it impossible to open your mouth or swallow. Tetanus is a medical emergency. You need to get treatment in a hospital.

A vaccine can prevent tetanus. It is given as a part of routine childhood immunization. Adults should get a tetanus shot, or booster, every 10 years. If you get a bad cut or burn, see your doctor - you may need a booster. Immediate and proper wound care can prevent tetanus infection.

Start Here

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Immunization Action Coalition) - PDF

Symptoms

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Prevention and Risk Factors

Images

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Patient Handouts

  • Tetanus (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
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