TRAVEL & IMMUNISATION CLINIC
What is Tetanus?
Tetanus is a vaccine-preventable disease caused by a toxin produced by bacteria called Clostridium tetani. Tetanus spores are found in soil throughout the world. The disease is acquired when material containing these spores, such as soil, contaminates a wound. The toxin released from the bacteria may then attack the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. Tetanus is not spread by person to person contact.
Signs & Symptoms
Generalised tetanus is responsible for most cases; this is associated with intense, painful contraction and spasm of skeletal muscles. It usually causes lockjaw (trismus) characterised by facial muscles spasm.
Other symptoms include: a stiff neck, forceful arching of the back, abnormal breathing and difficulty swallowing.
Even with intensive medical support, death occurs in 10 to 20 percent of cases.
Tetanus is found worldwide, but is more common in resource-poor countries with low vaccine coverage.
All travellers should be up to date with their vaccinations.