Tetanus is a serious disease which causes severe muscle spasms that can lead to lockjaw (the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow). In the US, the highest number of cases are in the unvaccinated older adults who don’t stay up to date on their 10-year booster shots.
- Tetanus does not spread from person to person.
- It is caused by a bacteria which may be found in in soil, dust and tools or nails.
- It can enter the body through breaks in the skin – usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects.
- Frostbite or burns can lead to tetanus.
- Sometimes there is no obvious portal of entry.
Prevention: There are 2 vaccines
- Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or after an exposure to tetanus if you have not had a booster within 5 years.
- Tdap is similar to Td but also contains protection against pertussis- You should have one pertussis containing vaccine in adulthood.
When and How often do you need to be vaccinated?
Everyone needs protection from tetanus. If you have not had a booster shot in 10 years or more, you should receive a tetanus shot. However, you should get the Tdap vaccine (the tetanus booster that also protects against pertussis) as soon as possible if you have not yet received it. You can get Tdap no matter when you last got a Td booster shot. Expectant mothers should get Tdap during the third trimester. If you never had the initial childhood tetanus vaccines, you should receive a series of three tetanus shots. (From the Centers from Disease Control (CDC)).
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