Can You Get Tetanus From Touching Rust?

Tetanus is produced throughout the world. Around one million people are affected by this disease every year. In developed countries, however, tetanus is quite rare, especially because of good living conditions and because many people are vaccinated. Thanks to the tetanus vaccine there are fewer than fifteen cases of tetanus per year. When this life-threatening disease occurs, two-thirds of patients survive.

Can You Get Tetanus From Touching Rust?

Can You Get Tetanus From Touching Rust?

Just by touching rust you will not get tetanus; but if your open wound touches rust, then it is better to consult doctor.

People exposed to a damp and moldy environment may have a series of health effects or may not have any problems. Some people are sensitive to mold, causing nasal congestion, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, ocular irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions, but it has not been related `to tetanus.

The pathogen responsible for tetanus is the bacterium “Clostridium tetani.” This bacillary bacterium can only multiply in a medium with little oxygen, which is why it is known as “strict anaerobe.” This type of medium often occurs in wounds, especially when they have very irregular edges. The bacteria can form spores, so the virus can survive in adverse conditions. In this case, the genetic information is stored in a multi-layered “capsule.” This makes it very resistant to heat and dehydration, as well as to the usual disinfectants and can survive in an oxygen-rich environment, although it does not reproduce.

The pathogen that causes tetanus is found practically in our entire environment, both in the form of a spore and in its reproductive form. It is also a natural part of the intestinal and cutaneous flora of men and animals. The high concentrations of this pathogen are found mainly in the soil and in the excrements of animals.

Tetanus manifests at first through general symptoms in most cases. These are the following: Headache, weakness, dizziness, sweats and muscle pain.

With the evolution of tetanus appears other symptom such as contractions of the muscles of the jaw (lockjaw) and so-called sardonic laughter, a smiling face that occurs due to the tension of the facial muscles. This is followed by the stiffness of the musculature of the head and neck, as well as the back and abdominal muscles. Next, the muscles of the arms and legs, the ribs, the larynx and finally the diaphragm are affected.

The painful contractions characteristic of tetanus last between one and two minutes and can occur at one-minute intervals and are caused by the slightest external stimulus. These stimuli can be a high sound (acoustic stimulus), a clear light (optical stimulus) or physical contact (mechanical stimulation).

Because tetanus significantly increases the exchange of substances in muscles that undergo contractions, fever occurs. Very strong contractions can even break the vertebrae of the spine and tear the spinous processes. Due to the spasms of the larynx and the rib muscles, breathing is severely affected. If the diaphragm is affected, patients are at risk of suffocation.

In tetanus, the diagnosis is made based on the characteristic symptoms. The clinical presentation of tetanus occurs when at least one of the following three criteria is presented:

-Permanent painful contractions of the muscles of the neck and jaw.

-Painful contractions of the trunk muscles.

-Local or general muscular contractions at the same time that muscular tension occurs.

In cases of atypical tetanus, a different evolution can occur; making diagnosis more difficult. In this type, the symptoms that normally occur during tetanus do not always appear. Other neurological symptoms may appear and if there is an infected wound, tetanus may be suspected.

If tetanus is suspected, the doctor tries to determine if the patient has received a vaccine in the past against this disease. The disease is unlikely to occur if the affected person has received the full-term tetanus vaccine in time and has received booster vaccines later.

To confirm the diagnosis of tetanus, the doctor can draw blood from the patient to detect the tetanus toxin (i.e., the toxin responsible for tetanus) in the blood. However, even if this toxin is not found, the existence of tetanus cannot be completely ruled out.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 5, 2023

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