Tetanus is a dangerous nerve ailment caused by the toxin of a common bacterium, Clostridium tetani. Bacterial spores are found in soil — most frequently in cultivated soil, least frequently in virgin soil. The spores can remain infectious for more than 40 years in soil. They also exist in environments as diverse as animal excrement, house dust, and the human colon. If the spores enter a wound that penetrates the skin and extends deeper than oxygen can reach, they germinate and produce a toxin that enters the bloodstream.
This toxin, tetanospasmin, ranks with botulism toxin as among the most potent known microbial poison. It is taken up from the blood by the outermost nerves and moves inward toward the spine. After approximately eight days (ranging from three to 21 days), it begins to short-circuit nerve signals and block the relaxation of muscles. This results in sustained muscle contractions, notably the lockjaw for which tetanus is nicknamed.
Tetanus is completely preventable by being immunized (vaccinated). Immunization usually protects against tetanus infection for 10 years.
In the United States, immunizations begin in infancy with the DTaP series of shots. The DTaP vaccine is a 3-in-1 vaccine that protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.
Td vaccine or Tdap vaccine is used to maintain immunity in people age 7 and older. Tdap vaccine should be given once, before age 65, as a substitute for Td for those who have not had Tdap. Td boosters are recommended every 10 years starting at age 19.
Older teenagers and adults who get injuries, especially puncture-type wounds, should get a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since the last booster.
If you have been injured outside or in any way that makes contact with soil likely, contact your provider about your risk of getting a tetanus infection. Injuries and wounds should be thoroughly cleaned right away. If the tissue of the wound is dying, a doctor will need to remove the tissue.(provided by internet and WEBMD)
Call Augusta Public Health office to schedule a tetanus vaccination today. 406-562-3509.
Office will be closed week of 1/30-2/3. Please contact Laurel Riek at 406-457-8914 for any questions or concerns arise. Office will be open on Monday, 2/6/2023. Thank you.