Tetanus is a very serious disease that may even cause death. It is also known as lockjaw because one of the symptoms are you lose control of the muscles and nerves in your body. Usually people lose control of the muscles of the jaw and it closes and locks and you cannot move it. This is one way you can die from tetanus from suffocation. You get the infection if you get cut or get a puncture wound from a nail or knife that has the tetanus virus on it. Another possible way to contract this disease is that after you get the wound it gets infected with a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. This bacterium can be found in soil, saliva, dust and manure.
The treatment for tetanus varies on the type of tetanus you have and how severe the infection is. There are four main types of tetanus, there are two forms that are rarely seen they are Local tetanus and Cephalic tetanus. The most common form of tetanus is generalized tetanus this represents about 80% of cases. The last form of tetanus is found in new born and young children it is called Neonatal tetanus. If you have a mild case of tetanus some possible treatments could be a Tetanus immune globulin IV or IM, metronidazole IV for 10 days, diazepam or a tetanus vaccination. If you have a severe case of tetanus you will have to be admitted into an intensive care unit and some possible treatments including what was stated in mild tetanus treatment is human tetanus immunoglobulin injected intrathecally (increases clinical improvement from 4% to 35%), tracheostomy and mechanical ventilation for 3 to 4 weeks, magnesium, as an intravenous (IV) infusion, to prevent muscle spasm, diazepam (known under the common name Valium) as a continuous IV infusion, the autonomic effects of tetanus can be difficult to manage (alternating hyper- and hypotension, hyperpyrexia/hypothermia) and may require IV labetalol, magnesium, clonidine, or nifedipine. Also muscle relaxants can be given to lessen the intensity of the spasms. It is important that the patient’s airway remains open and they are given a high calorie diet and a lot of protein because of the increased muscle strain that is caused by the increased muscle activity.
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The tetanus disease is most commonly found in parts of Africa, China and very severely in India (for more info see graph).
The vaccination for tetanus was first created in 1924 and was widely used to protect soldiers in World War 2. In the mid 1940s the tetanus vaccine was combined with diphtheria toxoid and inactivated pertussis bacteria to make the combination DTP vaccine for routine childhood immunization. In 1991, DTaP vaccine was licensed in the United States. The pertussis component of this vaccine is a more purified “acellular” version, which produces fewer side effects. In 2005, two new tetanus toxoid-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccines were licensed. These vaccines are the first pertussis-containing vaccines that can be given to persons older than 7 years.