Tetanus is an acute infectious disease caused by exposure to the spores of the bacterium, Clostridium tetani, that exists worldwide in the soil and in animal intestinal tracts and excrements.
Tetanus is a non-communicable disease, i.e. it does not spread from person to person. The spores of the bacterium enter the body through contaminated skin wounds or deep tissue injuries. Neurotoxins produced under anaerobic conditions (e.g. devitalized or necrotic tissue) in deep wounds contaminated with the bacterial spores lead to tetanus. The most important toxin of Clostridium tetani is tetanospasmin . This toxin blocks inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system and causes the muscular rigidity and spasms typical of generalized tetanus. Symptoms can include :
- jaw cramping or the inability to open the mouth (trismus, lockjaw)
- muscle spasms often in the back, abdomen and extremities (ophistotonus)
- sudden painful muscle spasms often triggered by sudden noises
- trouble swallowing
- fever and sweating
- changes in blood pressure or fast heart rate (tachycardia).
The incubation period of tetanus varies between 3 to 21 days after infection [1,2].
Tetanus can affect persons of all ages .
Treatment of tetanus include timely administration of human tetanus immune globulin, antibiotics and supportive care.