Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by contamination of wounds from bacteria that live in the soil. The bacterium Clostridium tetani is a hardy organism capable of living many years in the soil in a form called a spore.
Tetanus occurs when a wound becomes contaminated with bacterial spores. Infection follows when spores become active, multiply, and produce a very powerful poison that affects the muscles. Tetanus spores are found throughout the environment, usually in soil, dust, and animal waste. The favorite locations for the bacteria to enter your body are puncture wounds, such as those caused by nails, splinters, or insect bites. Burns, any break in the skin, and IV drug sites are also potential entryways for the bacteria.
Treatment for tetanus may include use of a tetanus antitoxin, such as tetanus immune globulin (TIG). However, the antitoxin can neutralize only toxin that hasn’t yet combined with nerve tissue. Your doctor may also give you antibiotics, either orally or by injection, to fight tetanus bacteria. You’ll also need to receive a tetanus vaccine in order to prevent future tetanus infection.
Such infection often requires a long period of Treatment for tetanus in an intensive care setting. You may need drugs to sedate you and to paralyze your muscles, and that may result in shallow breathing that needs to be supported temporarily by a ventilator.
In most cases of tetanus, the illness is severe and widespread, and there’s a risk of death despite treatment. Death may result from constriction of airways, pneumonia or instability in the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that controls your heart muscles, other involuntary muscles and glands.
Immune globulin, given intramuscularly, is the immediate treatment of nonimmunized individuals exposed to material likely to contain the tetanus bacteria. Treatment includes bed rest and quiet conditions. Sedation, paralysis with certain medications, and mechanical ventilation (i.e., respirator) may be necessary to control the spasms. More specifically, Tetanus immune globulin (TIG) is recommended for persons with tetanus. TIG can only help remove unbound tetanus toxin. It cannot affect toxin bound to nerve endings. A single intramuscularly dose of 3000 to 5000 units is generally recommended for children and adults, with part of the dose infiltrated around the wound if it can be identified. Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) contains tetanus antitoxin and may be used if TIG is not available. Tetanus disease does not result in tetanus immunity. Active immunization with tetanus toxoid should begin or continue as soon as the person’s condition has stabilized.
Antimicrobial drugs, such as penicillin, are used to eradicate the bacteria as a part of Treatment for tetanus.
Immunization is especially recommended for adults 50 years and older since most tetanus cases in recent years have occurred in this age group. Tetanus should be considered for:
· Persons who are not sure whether they have received the initial series of boosters
· Travelers to foreign countries with hot, damp climates
· Agricultural workers who work with dirt or manure
· Persons whose jobs expose them to cuts and scrapes
· Pregnant women who have not been immunized, or who may have been inadequately immunized, or who may deliver their babies in unhygienic circumstances
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