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Tetanus
InfectionAll wounds contaminated with soil may be infected. The contamination risk is high where accidents occur that involve extensive tissue damage.

Vaccination
  • Vaccination against tetanus is included in the childhood programmes for all countries. After the age of 20 a booster vaccination is´recommended every 10 years combined with diphtheria vaccine.

    Symptoms
    The symptoms are caused by the toxin and include a continuous contraction in muscles, for instance the face muscles. Later comes paralysis with difficulty in breathing and seizures.

    Diagnosis
    Seizures, painful muscle contractions and missing tetanus immunisation.

    Treatment
    Antibiotics have usually have no effect. A muscle relaxing drug and often general anaesthesia and respirator treatment is necessary. An anti-toxin is available based on antibodies against the toxin.

    Prevention
    Vaccination. Tetanus is a feared disease with a high mortality rate and it is therefore common procedure to give a tetanus booster vaccination whenever a patient with an open injury visits an emer-gency room.

    More about
    Tetanus is a notifiable disease and in 1999 the UK reported 3 cases with one death and a vaccine coverage of 95%.
    In developing countries tetanus in newborns is a feared complication to a childbirth under non-sterile conditions where the wound after the umbilical cord is contaminated with tetanus bacteria.
    This so called neonatal tetanus is not seen if the mother is vaccinated before giving birth.

    Further information: W.H.O. – Tetanus

    Edited 15 December 2008