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So, What About Tetanus?

Posted: 7/24/2017 3:32:57 PM | with 0 comments


“If you stepped on a nail, you’d definitely want to get a tetanus shot, right?” This is a reasonable question given that the tetanus bacteria can enter the body through a puncture wound as small as a pinprick and can cause lockjaw. 

Globally, thousands of deaths in Africa and other developing countries are caused by tetanus, many of them newborns who die after umbilical cords are cut using instruments contaminated with tetanus spores. In 2009 there were 19 cases of tetanus and two deaths in the U.S.

Tetanus cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, and deep puncture wounds that do not bleed are an ideal place for tetanus to multiply and cause infection. Proper wound care, including allowing the wound to bleed, is central to avoiding any type of bacterial infection.

It takes days after the administration of a tetanus-containing vaccine (DT, Td, DTaP, Tdap) given in the emergency room to raise antibody levels against tetanus in the blood, and by then symptoms of tetanus infection may have already begun to appear. Additionally, these vaccines have high complication rates.

The CDC recommends that people with skin wounds highly likely to be associated with tetanus bacteria receive tetanus immune globulin (TIG) antitoxin. The CDC also recommends an interval of 10 years, with a minimum interval of five years, between tetanus vaccinations. Adverse effects of TIG appear to be typically less severe than those associated with tetanus vaccine. 

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Posted: 7/24/2017 3:32:57 PM | with 0 comments


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