Tetanus is a serious disease of bacterial origin that gravely affects the functioning of the nervous system giving rise to debilitating complications. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria known as Clostridium tetani .
It takes about 7 to 8 days for the tetanus bacteria to show effect. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of tetanus:
Laboratory tests usually are not required for diagnosis of tetanus. A thorough physical examination of the signs and symptoms of muscle spasms and stiffness are enough to draw an appropriate conclusion. For cases when confirmed diagnosis cannot be made based on physical examination, the spatula test can be used. In this test, a spatula is inserted into back of the throat. If the individual is suffering from tetanus, then the spatula would cause spasms inside the throat compelling the individual to bite on the object. Such an activity would confirm the diagnosis of tetanus .
Tetanus infection cannot be cured. The symptoms can be managed by following appropriate treatment course. Initially the wound should be promptly treated to avoid further complications. The wound is cleansed using an antibiotic solution to remove the dirt, dead tissue and foreign bodies. Following this, medications form the secondary line of treatment for tetanus. Medicines such as antitoxin, antibiotics, sedatives and vaccine are given to treat the infection and control the spasms and muscle stiffness. An antitoxin such as tetanus immune globulin is effective for neutralizing only those toxins that have not attached the nerve endings. Antibiotics are administered to ward off the infections from the body. Strong sedatives are used for controlling muscle spasms and stiffness .
The prognosis of the disease is poor owing to the fact that once the toxins have attached to the nerve endings, it gets practically impossible to remove them. Absolute recovery from the tetanus infection can only be achieved when a new nerve ending develops. This may take several months. Recovery is very slow in such cases and can take 2 to 4 months for the individual to get back to normal. There are higher chances of the tetanus to recur and therefore it is advised that affected individuals be actively immunized against it .
Tetanus is caused by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium tetani which resides in soil, manure and dust. The bacteria gains entry into the body either through a deep wound, caused due to nail or from a burn . Once bacteria enter the body they produce a toxin known as tetanospasmin. This toxin is adversely affecting the nervous system of the individuals giving rise to painful muscle contractions characterized by stiffness of the neck muscles and spasms. Certain group of individuals such as travelers and those who inject recreational drugs are at an increased risk of developing tetanus.
The incidence of tetanus has undergone a steep decline since the year 1940 in the United States owing to tetanus immunization . In England and Wales, there were only 3 cases of tetanus recorded in the year 2011 . This is however the scenario in the developed countries, while the developing countries continue to face high numbers of cases of tetanus. It has been estimated that about 1 million cases of tetanus occurs every year across the globe. Amongst all age groups, elderly population is the most affected. Statistics reveal that in the period 1998 – 2000, about 70% of cases of tetanus were recorded for the elderly individuals in the United States.
The bacteria Clostridium tetani is an anaerobic, motile and gram-positive bacillus that is commonly found in dust, soil and feces of humans and animals. For the bacteria to cause an infection, it must gain entry into the human system. Individuals who have suffered deep cut wounds are potential candidates for developing tetanus. Once the bacteria gain entry into the system, they release a potent toxin known as the tetanospasmin. The toxin then gradually impairs the nervous system giving rise to various incapacitating symptoms .
Tetanus can easily be prevented by receiving vaccination against it. It is better to receive vaccination when one has suffered a deep wound either from nails or burns. Failure to do so can lead to development of tetanus infection. The condition can be very well treated if the toxin has not attached to the nerve endings. Children usually receive this vaccine as part of their diphtheria, acellularpertusis and tetanus toxoids vaccines .
Tetanus is characterized by painful muscular contractions more specifically of the jaw and muscles of the neck. Due to its characteristic features, the disease is also commonly referred to as “lockjaw”. If the disease is not treated on time it can lead to life threatening conditions. However, with the advent of tetanus vaccine, the incidence of the disease has significantly declined, especially in the developed countries. But, there are still considerable numbers of cases of tetanus occurring in the developing countries. Tetanus cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be well managed with a proper treatment regime .
Tetanus is a kind of severe bacterial disease adversely affecting the nervous system. Such a kind of disease causes muscle contractions of the jaws and the neck. It can also lead to breathing difficulty which can eventually lead to life threatening conditions. Tetanus is also referred to as “lockjaw”.
The bacteria known as Clostridium tetani cause tetanus. Individuals with deep cuts wounds fall easy prey to this disease condition as the bacteria can gain easy access through the wounds in the body. Once the bacteria enter the human system, it produces toxin known as the tetanospasmin which weakens the nervous system giving rise to an array of problems.
Symptoms of tetanus begins to show effect within 7 to 8 days after the bacteria enters the body. Affected individuals experience painful muscle contractions, specifically of the jaws and the neck, difficulty in breathing, stiffness of abdominal and neck muscle and painful body spasms. In addition, individuals can also experience rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, sweating and fever.
Physical examination of the symptoms is enough to diagnose tetanus. No laboratory studies are required for diagnosing this condition. However, if appropriate conclusion cannot be drawn then the spatula test can be carried out.
Tetanus cannot be cured; however the symptoms can be well managed with appropriate treatment regime. Medications are given to manage the muscular contractions and spasms. In addition to this, antibiotics are also administered to ward off the infection from the body.