Tetanus is an acute infectious disease characterized by intoxication of the nervous system after contracting the bacterium C. Tetani. The symptoms are mainly characterized by muscle spasms, breathing difficulties or rigidity located in different areas. The best method of protection against this condition is the immunization of the child by vaccination.

Tetanus is a medical condition caused by intoxication of the central nervous system with the toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium Tetani. It is related to bacteria that cause gangrene or botulism.

The bacterium in question is found everywhere, especially in the soil, dust, intestines of animals, but also of humans and survives for years, being resistant to temperature.

As the bacteria multiplies in the body it produces a nerve toxin. As with botulism, the toxin is responsible for the onset of symptoms and problems, and not the bacteria itself.

Because it is an anaerobic bacterium, the C. tetani bacterium cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, so it cannot be contacted by air.

Causes of tetanus

The bacterium can be transmitted to humans and can lead to intoxication by penetrating it into the body from a source contaminated by open lesions. The risk factors are:

  • wounds;
  • stings;
  • burns;
  • frostbite;
  • open fractures;
  • septic abortions, etc.

Symptoms of tetanus

The signs of the disease begin to appear after 2-6 weeks from the time of infection, but the typical incubation period is between 5 and 10 days.

The toxin produced by the bacterium and penetrated into the body is practically linked to the nerve endings that play a role in calming the muscles. In case the muscles no longer receive the signals of "calming" from the nerves, they contract and become rigid and sensitive to external factors, which leads in the first phase to spasms.

  • chills;
  • headache;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • irritability;
  • rigidity of the jaw and throat;
  • mild fever;
  • sore throat;
  • rigidity of the arms and legs.

The classic symptoms of tetanus are rigidity of the jaw and spasms of the neck, back or abdomen.

Tetanus sufferers have a specific expression of the face, a fixed smile, stretched and arched eyebrows. When they are nervous or stressed they show painful spasms in various areas of the body. In addition, they may sweat excessively during spasms and may be unable to speak and breathe properly. The brain is not sufficiently oxygenated and shows signs of hypoxia or suffocation - blue lips or nails.

The rigidity that occurs in the bladder and intestines can cause urinary retention and constipation.

What complications can occur?

If there is a severe form of tetanus, some of the following complications may occur:

  • pneumonia;
  • broken bones (fractures);
  • skin lesions;
  • abnormal pulse;
  • secondary infections;
  • lower blood pressure.

Laryngospasm is a complication that can interfere with breathing. This is caused by the spasms located in the vocal cords.

In order to receive the proper treatment it is necessary to admit the child to the hospital. One of the biggest threats is the blocking of the breath. There is the possibility of intervention by tracheostomy (insertion of a tube in the throat to restore breathing and oxygenation of the brain) or by other artificial ventilation techniques.

How can tetanus be treated?

The therapeutic behavior in the case of tetanus is formed by a complex of measures in order to recover it:

  • medication for controlling muscle spasms;
  • antibiotics and tetanus immune globulin to treat the infection;
  • wound care;
  • vaccination.

Also read: Vaccinations recommended during pregnancy

The most effective and effective prophylactic measure is immunization. The tetanus vaccine provides long-term protection and is especially recommended in children. Nowadays, little ones are vaccinated at 2.4 and 6 months, then at 18 months and lastly at 4 or 6 years. Most of them receive a complex vaccine that protects against several diseases - tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, etc.

Tags Tetanus Infectious diseases Children infections