It is seen that many people still think that tetanus is caused due to injuries by iron objects only. This is a gross misconception. Any injury, where there is a breach in continuity of skin, may it be by any object, thorn prick, animal bite, surgical trauma tetanus may be caused if the injury gets infected by tetanus spores. It is necessary to get complete immunisation by taking 2 doses at a 1-month interval, one booster after 1 year and then boosters every 5 years.
It is the first vaccine that the doctor will ask your child to get if he/she gets wound. Tetanus is a rare but severe condition which occurs when bacteria enter into an open wound. It can turn fatal if left untreated, so you need to follow the vaccination schedule in order to control the infection. Indulging in substance abuse (especially the ones that require injecting with syringes) increases the risk of tetanus.
This disorder is caused by the bacteria called ‘Clostridium tetani’. The bacterium is known to survive for an extended period outside the body, and is found in places such as soil and the manure of cows and horses. The bacteria enter the body through a wound, multiply rapidly and then release a toxin. This toxin causes muscle spasms and stiffness, thus affecting your nerves. The bacteria can enter the body through cuts, burns, animal bites, body piercings and eye injuries. However, this disorder is not contagious.
The symptoms of this disease can take 5-20 days to develop fully in the body. Your child may experience symptoms such as a rise in the body temperature, sweating, rapid heartbeats, muscle spasms and stiffening of the jaw muscles. These symptoms will worsen if left untreated, eventually leading to cardiac arrest or suffocation in some cases.
If your child has a wound, the first step is to administer an injection of tetanus immunoglobulin. Tetanus immunoglobulin contains antibodies that effectively kill the tetanus bacteria. In case the symptoms start, then the child might need to be admitted to a hospital. Here, antibiotics and muscle relaxants are administered and breathing support may also be provided if required.
The preventive measure of this disorder is to be vaccinated against the ‘tetanus’ bacteria. The vaccine consists of five injections that are administered in a specific order. Once the entire course has been completed, it usually provides lifelong protection against the tetanus bacteria.
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