Tetanus is a disease caused by bacteria (Clostridium tetani) that release a powerful poison (toxin) that spreads throughout the body, seriously disrupting nervous system function. The main signs of the disease are stiffness or rigidity of the limbs, an abnormal sensitivity to touch, and muscle spasms. Spasms of the jaw muscles are the reason the condition is often called “lock jaw.”
Soil and human and animal waste are common sources of the bacteria, and infection most commonly is caused by contamination of a body wound. Usually, 4 to 20 days elapse (incubation time) between the time the bacteria enter the body and the early signs of illness.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Tetanus is a severe life-threatening disease and hospitalization is usually necessary.