Tetanus is an extremely fatal disease. It is caused by a bacterium clostridium tetani. This disease affects the nervous system. As a result, very sudden, powerful and painful muscle contractions occur. This particularly starts in the jaw muscles and is then seen to be progressing down the whole body. When the jaw muscles are affected, the condition is known as lockjaw or trismus. Sometimes a typical arching of the back muscles results in a peculiar position known as opisthotonos. It is very painful and has serious damage causing potential.
How Soon Should you get a Tetanus Shot after an Injury?
When there is an injury, and even if it is skin deep, there are huge chances of the bacteria getting inside, especially if the wound is dirty or deep or has a foreign body in it. The doctor will advise a tetanus shot booster if the wound is clean, but you have not taken a vaccine in last 10 years. However, physician will recommend a booster, if the wound is dirty and you haven not taken the vaccine in last 5 years. If the wound is likely at a risk of being tetanus infected, and one does not remember when he has taken his last shot, it is better to play safe and take a booster shot. Also, if one has never been vaccinated for tetanus in his entire life, then there are several doses to be taken to obtain the full immunity against tetanus. It is advisable to consult our physician regarding this.
Another thing to be kept in mind is cleaning the wound properly with lots of water and a disinfectant to clean any dirt and foreign particles, to reduce the risk of getting the tetanus infection.
Considering all this, it is quite clear as to how serious and fatal this rare disease is. And, it has been established that once tetanus affects the body, it is not possible to cure it. As it is evident that tetanus is a rare yet deadly infection of the nervous system, it is best to get medical attention if one is unsure about an injury and one’s vaccination status.
Causes of Tetanus
The organism responsible for causing tetanus is clostridium tetani. It is a bacterium, which thrives in anaerobic environment, meaning the environment lacking in oxygen, like an injury or a wound. Its spores are found in abundance in mediums such as soil, dust, saliva and manure, as they provide a perfect habitat for these spores to grow. Once they enter the body through a wound or an injury, they grow to become the bacterium clostridium tetani. This bacterium produces a very powerful and dangerous toxin known as tetanospasmin. This tetanospasmin affects the functioning of the nervous system. It majorly affects the nerves that control our muscular movements. This results in muscle spasms and muscle rigidity. These are the prominent symptoms of tetanus.
Complications Occurring After a Tetanus Infection
Once the tetanospasmin bonds with the nerves, it is not possible to take it out of the body. For it to be removed from the body completely, new nerve endings have to be formed. This activity may take a number of months.
Hence, it is of prime importance to get oneself immunized for tetanus. There are two types of immunizations for tetanus-active and passive. Active immunization is where tetanus toxoid is injected in the body so that the body can learn to make its own antibodies against tetanus. This is recommended for children in five doses at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-18 months and then between 4-6 years and then again at the age of 11-12. If an adult has not taken a shot in last 10 years, then he should get a single dose and then a dose after every ten years.