Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Tetanus

4년 전

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My last article, "Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Asthma" we learned that Asthma is a disease that cannot be cured but with appropriate management, one can learn to control this disease and lead a good quality of life. There are short-term medications that can relieve symptoms but people with persistent symptoms must take long-term medications daily, to control the underlying inflammation which impact airflow to the lungs, and to prevent asthma symptoms and episodes of exacerbations. It is equally important to avoid any triggers that may elicit an asthma attack. Today I will like to move onto another childhood disease, Tetanus.

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What Is Tetanus?

According to Stanford Children’s Hospital ( Tetanus is an “acute, sometimes fatal, disease of the central nervous system, caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacterium, which usually enters the body through an open wound.” This tetanus bacteria actually lives in soil and manure but can also be found in the human intestine, animal saliva and other places:

  • Tetanus occurs more often in warmer climates or during the warmer months.
  • Tetanus is very uncommon in the U.S. due to widespread immunization.

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Tetanus is also known as Lockjaw where the infection starts with muscle spasms in the jaw and later progresses to the rest of the body. According to Kids Health ( “once the bacteria are in the body, they produce a neurotoxin (a protein that acts as a poison to the body's nervous system) that causes muscle spasms. The toxin can travel throughout the body via the bloodstream and lymph system. As it circulates more widely, the toxin interferes with the normal activity of nerves throughout the body, leading to generalized muscle spasms. Spasms can be so forceful that they tear muscles or even cause spine fractures. Without treatment, tetanus can be fatal.”

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How Is Tetanus Transmitted?

Tetanus is not a contagious disease but occurs when an individual gets a skin or deep tissue wound or puncture. An example of this is like stepping on a rusty nail. Tetanus can also be seen in the umbilical stump of infants primarily in underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately this occurs in areas where immunization to tetanus is not available or where women are not educated about proper stump care after the baby is born. Once an individual is exposed to tetanus, it takes 3 - 21 days for symptoms to develop. Infants symptoms take between 3 to two weeks to emerge.


What Are the Symptoms of Tetanus?

It should be noted that each individual may experience different symptoms but the most common ones are as follow according to Stanford Children’s Hospital:

  • Stiffness of the jaw (also called lockjaw)
  • Stiffness of the abdominal and back muscles
  • Contraction of the facial muscles
  • Convulsions

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  • Fast pulse
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Painful muscle spasms near the wound area (if these affect the larynx or chest wall, they may cause asphyxiation)
  • Difficulty swallowing

The above symptoms of tetanus may resemble other medical conditions so it is very important that you consult the doctor for a diagnosis, especially if it involves a young child.

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What Are the Risk Factors of Tetanus?

Some of the risks factors are as followed according to many sources including Mayo Clinic ( and About Kids Health (

  1. Failure to get vaccinated properly.

  2. Failure to get up to date booster shots against tetanus. It is recommended that you get a tetanus shot every 10 years.

  3. International travel without being vaccinated.

  4. Getting an injury that lets tetanus spores into the wound and not having it treated.

  5. Encountering a foreign body such as a nail or splinter.

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Mayo Clinic also included other possible situations where people have developed a case of tetanus that one should be aware of:

  • Puncture wounds — including from splinters, body piercings, tattoos, injection drugs
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Compound fractures
  • Burns
  • Surgical wounds
  • Injection drug use
  • Animal or insect bites
  • Infected foot ulcers
  • Dental infections
  • Infected umbilical stumps in newborns born of inadequately immunized mothers

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How Is Tetanus Treated?

Usually children who have tetanus are treated in a hospital, usually in the intensive care unit where they typically get antibiotics to kill the bacteria and also receive medications that can control muscle spasms. Other interventions are done depending on the child’s condition. According to Stanford Children’s Hospital a tracheostomy may be performed where a breathing tube is inserted surgically in the windpipe for very severe cases that involve respiratory problems. Other interventions are also administered to support vital body functions.

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Complications of Tetanus

According to Everyday Health ( some of the complications of Tetanus may include:

  • Fractures and broken bones: Intense muscle spasms can cause the spine and other bones to break.
  • Disability: Prolonged use of strong sedatives to control muscle spasms can lead to permanent disability.
  • Brain damage: Since spasms can restrict oxygen, tetanus may cause lasting brain damage in infants, from minor mental deficits to more serious conditions like cerebral palsy.
  • Death: Severe muscle spasms from tetanus can cause airway obstruction and the inability to breath. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of death in people with tetanus.
  • Cardiac arrest may also occur from lack of oxygen, as well as pneumonia. With proper treatment, less than 15 percent of people with tetanus die.

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According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention ( their list of complications include the following:

  • Uncontrolled/involuntary tightening of the vocal cords (laryngospasm)
  • Broken bones (fractures)
  • Infections gotten by a patient during a hospital visit (hospital-acquired infections)
  • Blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a blood clot that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (pulmonary embolism)
  • Pneumonia, a lung infection, that develops by breathing in foreign materials (aspiration pneumonia)
  • Breathing difficulty, possibly leading to death (1 to 2 in 10 cases are fatal)

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Prognosis of Tetanus

According to Emedicine ( the prognosis is dependent on the incubation period, the time from spore inoculation to first symptom and the time from first symptom to first tetanic spasm. They stated that the following statements typically hold true:

  • In general, shorter intervals indicate more severe tetanus and a poorer prognosis
  • Patients usually survive tetanus and return to their predisease state of health
  • Recovery is slow and usually occurs over 2-4 months
  • Some patients remain hypotonic
  • Clinical tetanus does not produce a state of immunity; therefore, patients who survive the disease require active immunization with tetanus toxoid to prevent a recurrence

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How To Prevent Tetanus

About Kids Health stated that most children catch tetanus through an open wound and having contact with dirt, dust or animal droppings. It is suggested that the only safe and reliable way to avoid tetanus is through immunization in early childhood. Tetanus vaccines are normally given at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months of age. Then at 18 months another vaccine is given followed by another injections between 4 to 6 years of age. Boosters are recommended once every 10 years.

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Some Interesting Facts About Tetanus

There are some interesting facts about Tetanus according to Emedicine:

  • Only 12-14% of patients with tetanus in the United States have received a primary series of tetanus toxoid. During 1998-2000, only 6% of all patients with tetanus were known to be current with tetanus immunization, with no fatal cases reported among this group.
  • In 73% of patients with tetanus in the United States, tetanus occurred after an acute injury, including puncture wounds (50%), lacerations (33%), and abrasions (9%).
  • Stepping on a nail accounted for 32% of the puncture wounds.
  • Tetanus was found to occur in burn victims; in patients receiving intramuscular injections; in persons obtaining a tattoo; and in persons with frostbite, dental infections (eg, periodontal abscesses), penetrating eye injuries, and umbilical stump infections.

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  • Other reported risk factors included diabetes, chronic wounds (eg, skin ulcers, abscesses, or gangrene), parenteral drug abuse, and recent surgery (4% of US cases).
  • During 1998-2000, 12% of patients with tetanus in the United States had diabetes (with mortality, 31%), compared with 2% during 1995-1997; of these patients, 69% had acute injuries and 25% had gangrene or a diabetic ulcer.
  • The median time interval between surgery and onset of tetanus was 7 days.
  • Tetanus was reported after tooth extractions, root canal therapy, and intraoral soft tissue trauma.

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So in summary, Tetanus is a serious disease that attacks the nervous system with the deadly bacteria called Clostridium Tetani. Because it can cause painful spasms and stiffness in the jaw muscles it is sometimes referred to as Lockjaw. Not only is the jaw affected, this bacteria can also cause muscle contractions in the neck and throughout the body affecting breathing. Tetanus can be prevented from a vaccine which provides immunity against Tetanus. If you get a deep wound or other injury such as open wounds with the presence of infective bacteria, animal bites, fractures, drug injections, ulcers, foreign objects such as a nail or splinter, swelling, etc. you should see your doctor especially if you have not been vaccinated or have up to date booster shots.

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I hope you learned something from this article about Tetanus. There are many resources on the internet if you need more specific information. I will continue this series with another childhood disease post. I hope you will continue to join me in this quest to learn about these illnesses that children usually encounter when they are young. Thank-you for reading my article on Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Tetanus. If you would like to follow me, please check HERE

These are my previous articles. if you are interested in reading it:

Neuroplasticity: Hope For People With Anxiety?

Neuroplasticity: How to deal with Anxiety Disorders Like Panic Attacks

Neuroplasticity: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Neuroplasticity: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Neuroplasticity: Self-Directed Neuroplasticity Exercises

Neuroplasticity: Music & Music Therapy

Neuroplasticity: Meditation and Anxiety

Neuroplasticity: Brainwave Entrainment

Anxiety and CBD: An Introduction to Cannabinoid

Childhood Injuries: Concussions

Childhood Injuries: Post Concussion Syndrome & Recovery & Safety Measures To Prevent Concussions

Youth Sports: The Benefits of Youth Sports & Increase Incidents of Concussions

Are You Ready For Some Football? - The Continuing Saga of Concussion & Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Former NFL Players & Other Concussion Victims

An American Tragedy: Story of Mike Webster, Pro Hall of Famer & CTE

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – The Tragedy Continues: Not Just In the NFL

Should Our Children Be Playing Contact Sports or Not?: Dr. Bennet Omalu

Teachers & Parents Beware of Impetigo: I Gave It To My Teacher

Childhood Diseases –On a Mission to Learn: Chicken Pox

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Strep Throat

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Fifth Disease

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Measles

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Mumps

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Croup

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Childhood Diseases – On a Mission to Educate: Asthma

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Great piece of work, gave you my full UV!


Thank-you so much @blockchainttmft for you wonderful comments and support. Wishing you a great day ahead!!

Great post - I feel really sad that I have discovered you this late.
As an upcoming doctor I know about the problems with many people not vaccinating or not taking Tetanus seriously.
Well researched and superb made post - 100% Upvote!


Thank-you so much @theaustrianguy for your much appreciated comments and support. Your words uplifted my spirits because I am so glad that you are an upcoming doctor who seems so patient friendly and very grounded! I am a firm believer that all people must be educated about medical disorders so that they can protect their children, family and themselves with knowledge. Parents have to understand the value of medical intervention and how they need to bring their children to get medical help when they need to. It is so sad when children have to suffer so much!!! Wishing you all the best as you grow in your practice as a physician!!! Again, thaink-you for your support!


Thank you as well for your kind words.
The problem is that many people don't look for information on the internet - they just look for something to proof their theories (f.e. with vaccines) - And you can find "proof" for everything if you search long enough.
"Selection Bias" is a huge problem nowadays!

Thank you for shedding light on Tetanus. General awareness is very important ! I learnt a thing or two so thanks again !


Thank-you so much for your wonderful comment and support. It is deeply appreciated! I am very happy if my article gave you some insight to this terrible disease if not treated. Wishing you a very happy day ahead! Again, thank-you so much!

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Superb work, very scientific. Thanks for such a detailed and informational post ! :)


Thank-you so much @kekssideoflife for the wonderful comments and support. I really appreciate it!

Thank you!I have become smarter by reading your post^^


Thank-you so much Yoshiko for your comment and support. I am not as active but eventually I will be on Steemit more often. I hope you are well and doing great! It is so good to reconnect with you again!!!

Congratulations! This post has been upvoted from the communal account, @minnowsupport, by cabbagepatch from the Minnow Support Project. It's a witness project run by aggroed, ausbitbank, teamsteem, theprophet0, someguy123, neoxian, followbtcnews/crimsonclad, and netuoso. The goal is to help Steemit grow by supporting Minnows and creating a social network. Please find us in the Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network (PALnet) Discord Channel. It's a completely public and open space to all members of the Steemit community who voluntarily choose to be there.

A long post which includes all the aspect of Tetanus. It is very uncommon now but people are still afraid of it. So, in case of any type if cut or penetrating wound, they are asking for Tetanus vaccination. But tetanus only might happen in contaminated wound, usually soiled with mud, cow dung or similar way. Clean wound is usually no risk of tetanus.


Yes I agree it is not as common but there have been cases where the booster was not done so patients are getting tetanus under unusually situations. One patient had an infected tooth and ended up getting tetanus with resulting lockjaw and contracted muscles. Thank-you so much for your comments! I wish you a great day ahead!

Thank you cabbagepath these stay very interesting. How are you feeling and how is Lady.


You are such a very wonderful person! Thank-you for your kind concern for my dog Lady and me! Lady's cancer is getting better but she remains on chemotherapy. We will see the doctor in a month and hopefully the cancer will be in remission.

I want to express my deepest condolences to you and your wife at the passing of your mother. I know it is very hard to deal with such a loss but as least she is not suffering anymore and is in a much better place. I understand that your mother's funeral is on Sunday. My thoughts and prayers will be with you that day.

I don't go on Steemit as often but I will once I get a little better. I also must apologize for not reading any of your posts since I got sick. I will definitely put you on my voting bot and promise to read your wonderful work when I can.

Again, thank-you so much for your warm and loving comments and support. My deepest thanks!!!


My talks about you so often that I feel as if I know you as well. Thank you for your lovely reply.

Good to see you getting back with another article! Good thing my country's health care provides vaccines against tetanus for free.


Thank-you @celestal. I am gradually trying to get back into what I was doing before I got sick. Still need to take it gradually but at least I am getting better. I hope you are well too!!!

I am so glad Lady is better, hope it will be all fine when you go to the vet. Told my hubby and see he is just as conserned. Hope you have a lovely day.