Tetanus – also known as lockjaw, is an infection of the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in soil, saliva, dust and manure. The bacteria generally enters the body through a cut or puncture wound by a contaminated object, and presents symptoms of muscle spasm, fever and headaches. The spasms usually last a few minutes each time and occur frequently over a period of three to four weeks. Severe spasms can cause bone fractures, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. About 10% of infected people die, but the disease can be prevented by proper immunisation with the tetanus vaccine.

The vaccine for children under the age of seven is often combined with vaccines against diphtheria and pertussis. Adults are recommended a booster vaccine every ten years, and standard care practice is to give the booster to any patient with a puncture wound who is uncertain of when he or she last received the vaccine.

Tetanus occurs in all parts of the world but is most frequent in hot and wet climates where the soil contains a lot of organic matter. Global vaccine effort has managed to bring down the mortality from 356,000 death in 1990 to 59,000 death in 2015.