What is tetanus and how do you get it? Well, it is a potentially fatal disease caused by bacteria found in dirt, dust and soil. The bacterial live all over the world and the disease can occur in both humans and animals. Tetanus is the only vaccine-preventable disease that is not contagious. You can’t catch Tetanus from someone else. It happens when dust or dirt comes in contact with an open wound that can be from a from a pinprick to a deep wound. Some of the typical wounds that lead to Tetanus infections are cuts, scrapes, lacerations, animal bites, tattoos, postsurgical wounds, body piercings – even splinters! An infection can set in as little as two days or as long as a couple of months. Once Tetanus is inside the bloodstream, the bacteria grow, produce a deadly toxin that can cause spasm and paralysis of muscles.
Symptoms of Tetanus include headache, sweating, fever, difficulty swallowing and stiffness of the jaw (lockjaw) and abdominal muscles. Lockjaw is the most dangerous symptom because it can lead to death by suffocation.
What can you do to prevent tetanus? That is something that you can do by getting a regular tetanus vaccine booster shot. You probably received several tetanus shots when you were a child. Even though you may have, tetanus immunity does not last forever. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you get a tetanus booster every ten years. If you do get injured during that time, your doctor may request that you have another booster if it has been longer than five years since your last one. If you are traveling internationally , you’ll want to be up to date with your immunity because tetanus may be more common where you’re visiting, especially if you are visiting a developing country.
Tetanus boosters shots are easy to get. You can call your family doctor. We keep them on hand here at Doctors Express. You can walk in without an appointment any day of the week even on the weekend – and receive your booster shot.
Be sure to write down the date you receive your booster so you won’t wonder next time!