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A Guide to Tetanus: What You Need to Know About This Serious Bacterial Infection

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes tightening of the muscles in the body. Frequently, this causes what is known as lockjaw in which the muscles of the jaw tighten, which can prevent a person from opening their mouth, and swallowing. Tetanus is usually preventable by using common vaccines.

People normally come into contact with tetanus through contact with foreign objects- specifically, when these objects come into contact with broken skin. One of the most common ways people get tetanus is from stepping on or coming in contact with rusty metal objects (like fences or nails.) Other common causes of tetanus are burns, and wounds that have been contaminated with dirt.

As stated previously, the symptoms of tetanus include painful tightening of muscles, but may also include headaches, fever, and seizures. If you suspect that you or someone you know has become infected with tetanus, you need to get the person affected to an emergency room as soon as possible. Tetanus is very serious- 1 in 10 people who contract it will die from the disease according to the CDC.

Treatment for Tetanus includes hospitalization, treatment with anti-toxins, as well as antibiotics, and drugs to control muscle spasms.

There are four combinations of vaccines used to prevent tetanus. DTap, Tdap, DT and Td. According to Vaccines.gov DTap and DT are given to children under that age of seven. Tdap and Td are given to older children, teens and adults.

Everyone needs to be protected from tetanus. If you have not had a booster shot in 10 years of more, you should contact your primary care doctor. Talk to your doctor about the tetanus vaccination and make sure you are up to date on yours to prevent hospitalization.

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