Tetanus, a type of infectious disease, is a disease that causes muscle contraction due to the toxin produced by the tetanus bacteria proliferating at the wound site, acting on nerve cells. Tetanus is caused by Clostridium, an anaerobic gram-positive bacillus known as tetanus, that produces a neurotoxin called tetanospasminx. It is said that tetanus spores contained in soil, dust, and animal feces penetrate the wounds of the skin, causing transmission. It is also known that it can be caused by cuts caused by barbed wire mesh or cuts by knives, and can be infected when pierced by nails or needles, or when bitten by animals. It has also been known to occur in newborns due to drug abuse or to newborns whose mothers did not receive tetanus vaccination. Now, let’s learn more about the various symptoms that appear when tetanus occurs, as well as various information related to treatment and prevention.
The main symptoms of tetanus
Tetanus, which usually goes through an incubation period of 3 to 21 days, is said to have various times when symptoms begin to appear. In most cases, the onset occurs within 14 days, and it is known that the shorter the incubation period, the worse the course of the disease. In the early stages of tetanus, muscle contractions are localized around the wound, and as symptoms progress, contractions around the neck and jaw occur. If the symptoms become severe, paralysis such as the inability to open the mouth or swallow food may appear, and then it may progress to contraction of the trunk muscles. And body-wide convulsions appear 1 to 4 days after the onset of tetanus, and symptoms such as fever and chills may also appear. If treatment is delayed without prompt treatment after tetanus has occurred, various complications such as vocal cord spasms, respiratory failure, vertebral fractures, arrhythmias, hypertension, coma, systemic infection, and pneumonia can occur, and in severe cases, life-threatening. It can have fatal consequences. In particular, in the case of infants and the elderly, the treatment progress of tetanus is not good, and the death rate due to worsening of symptoms is high. Therefore, it is very important to visit a hospital or public health center as soon as possible and take appropriate measures if the various related symptoms mentioned above appear.
Tetanus Treatment and Prevention
1. Appropriate treatment
Since the neurotoxin has already penetrated the nervous system at the time when the symptoms of tetanus appear, treatment is performed to prevent the neurotoxin from further invading the central nervous system and to remove the strain to block the toxin production. Immunoglobulin or antitoxin to neutralize the toxin is injected intravenously, and antibiotics such as penicillin, metronidazole, and cephalosporin are administered at the same time. If symptoms do not improve with these treatments, neuromuscular block may be performed. And in order to prevent the reflex stiffness that can occur during the treatment of tetanus, the treatment is performed in an environment that is not bright, quiet, and minimizes external stimuli.
2. Implementation of vaccination
The most important thing in preventing tetanus is vaccination. All infants and young children are subject to vaccination, and the DTaP vaccine is given three times at 2-month intervals for 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age, and additional doses are given to those aged 15 to 18 months and 11 to 12 years of age. Adults over 40 who have not been vaccinated against DTaP will be vaccinated every 0, 1, and 6 months. In addition, since permanent immunity is not formed even after tetanus has recovered, vaccination must be performed.
3. Thorough management of the wound area
In order to prevent infection by tetanus, it is important to quickly disinfect the skin mucosa and wound area and remove the necrotic tissue when a wound occurs. In addition, if the wound is severe, it is recommended to receive tetanus immunoglobulin along with vaccination. In addition, if it is determined that immunity due to tetanus toxin is not sufficient by checking past tetanus vaccination records, tetanus toxoid vaccination as well as tetanus immunoglobulin may be additionally performed.