Fact Checked

Tetanus is a disease that occurs in humans when an open wound is contaminated by the spores of the bacteria clostridium tetani and also bites from animals. It can cause infection when the spores begins to grow and develops into bacterial cells and grow in the body and produce a vicious neuro toxin which is called tetanospasmin which cause taut muscles and uncontrollable spasms which are painful. Spores of these bacteria can be found in the dust, soil and feces of animals that can stay dormant for years until there is a favorable environment where they can grow.

They will enter the body through punctured wounds and mud caked cuts caused by nails that are rusty, splinters and ruptured skin after a fall in the dirt. Foreign elements that are lodged deep in the skin after an accident or injury can also cause an infection.

Tetanus can affect only one area of the body or it can spread throughout the whole body causing spasms of the muscles. Neonatal tetanus happens in newborns who are delivered in unsanitary environments and the mother was not given prenatal immunization shots against tetanus.


  • A deep wound that is contaminated and not properly cleaned
  • A dead tissue found around the wound can become breeding places for bacteria.
  • Walking barefooted in pens of animals or stables which expose the lacerations or abrasions to the wastes increases the risk of tetanus.
  • Using unsterilized needles after a surgery.
  • Using rusty blades or razors for shaving can cause cuts which can be dangerous and cause tetanus.
Spasms of muscle spread to the neck and chest requires immediate medical help immediately.


  • Headache and fever
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Muscle spasms at the affected area
  • Symptoms appear anytime after two days, but usually they appear within two weeks.
  • Spasms of muscle spread to the neck and chest requires immediate medical help immediately.
  • Sometimes in severe cases, the infection can cause death if a muscle that is used in breathing spasms and the supply of oxygen to the brain is affected.


  • Any abrasions, scrapes, cuts and punctured wounds should be washed and cleaned thoroughly in order to remove debris and other foreign particles and minimize the risk for infection.
  • Wash wounds and cuts using warm water and wipe using a soft clean cloth and apply an antiseptic cream or powder in order to help prevent infection.
  • Apply a poultice of powdered turmeric and hot candle wax on the affected wound to help with the condition.
  • If stiffness is experienced, massage the arms, neck and jaw.

Important tips to bear in mind

  • Expectant mothers should be immunized before the delivery, so that the mother and the baby are protected even if delivery happens in unsterile surroundings.
  • Wear proper foot wear in order to prevent puncture wounds from contamination of rusty nails and using equipment such as helmets and pads for the elbow which help in cushioning the body from accidents such as falls and avoid scrapes and abrasions.
  • Eliminate rusty garden equipment such as knives and blades.
  • Protruding nails in gates, fences and doors should be fixed in order to avoid injuries.

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