What Antibiotics Treat Tetanus?

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects the nervous system. Anyone can catch the infection through the spores of the bacterium present in the soil. These spores enter the body through cut or wounds, insect or animal bites. They interfere with the nerve supply from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles leading to spasms and stiffness. The early symptoms of tetanus are fever, diarrhea, and headache. Treatment of tetanus is not always effective and curative. Antibiotics can also help in the treatment of tetanus.

What Antibiotics Treat Tetanus?

What Antibiotics Treat Tetanus?

First of all, the wound is thoroughly cleaned soon after injury with antiseptics. The wound in which there is huge damage to the tissues or removal of a considerable amount of tissues, Tetanus immunoglobulin is injected into the vein. It is a short-term vaccination against tetanus. It is usually given to pregnant and breastfeeding ladies as they are considered safe.

Antibiotics such as penicillin or metronidazole are prescribed to control the multiplication and reproduction of the bacteria. Anticonvulsants like diazepam or Valium are given to control anxiety and muscular spasm. It usually works as a sedative. Muscle relaxants like baclofen, are also effective to suppress the signals of nerves from the brain to the spinal cord, thus muscular contractions are reduced more. Neuromuscular blocking agents like pancuronium and vecuronium are also a good choice for treatment as they block the signals from nerves to the fibers of muscle in order to control muscle spasms.

  • Surgical removal of dead or contaminated tissues or foreign materials in large and tetanus-prone wounds is done for better results.
  • A high-calorie diet is recommended to the patient as the muscles activity is increased in tetanus.
  • Ventilator support is required in severe cases where there is the spasm of vocal cords and respiratory muscles.

Antibiotics that can be used for the treatment of tetanus are-

Penicillin G– it is an antibiotic that kills bacteria by inhibiting the cell wall synthesis and activation of enzymes that can kill the bacteria. Doctors prescribe them in 10- 14-day course as its large doses can result in hemolytic anemia, neurotoxicity or cardiac arrest.

Metronidazole– it is very effective in the treatment of tetanus. It kills the bacteria by inhibiting DNA synthesis and protein synthesis of the bacteria. It is a safe drug and drug of choice for tetanus with negligible side effects. It is also given in recommended doses for 10-14 days.

Doxycycline– it restricts the growth of bacteria and protein synthesis. It is prescribed in a 10-14 – day course.

Erythromycin, Clindamycin, Vancomycin, and Tetracycline– these antibiotics are not the drug of choice for tetanus, but they can be used individually if above drugs cannot be used for any allergic reactions or side effects.


Tetanus Immunization is effective in the control of the disease. As there is no definite cure for the disease, prevention is a better option. Tetanus toxoids are used for immunization in neonates and women in childbearing age, especially in pregnant and breastfeeding ladies.

Tetanus vaccine is given to immunize neonates and children as DTP and DT vaccines which is a combination of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. dT prevents tetanus in adults.

Tetanus is a serious infectious disease that affects the nerves supplying motor information to the muscles of the body. The causative organism of tetanus is a bacterium named Clostridium tetani. It enters the body from the cuts and wounds punctured by contaminated needles, nails, tools or animal or insect bites. The spores of bacteria release toxins in the wound that are carried to the brain and nervous system.


Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nervous system resulting in muscle stiffness and spasms. Metronidazole is a drug of choice in tetanus because of its safety profile. Penicillin and doxycycline are the antibiotics that are prescribed for tetanus in a recommended course of 10 to 14 days.

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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:December 2, 2019

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