Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
Print    Email
Bookmark and Share

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information - Definition

Search Health Information    Tetanus

Tetanus

Tetanus (lockjaw) is a preventable but dangerous bacterial infection that causes muscle spasms, trouble opening the mouth (lockjaw), trouble swallowing, and seizures. Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound or cut.

Tetanus bacteria thrive only in the absence of oxygen. The deeper and narrower the wound, the less oxygen is around it, and the greater the possibility of tetanus. For example, tetanus bacteria can thrive in a puncture wound from a dirty nail.

Following the recommended immunization schedule helps prevent tetanus. Before age 6, children receive a series of tetanus shots (DTaP). Then, teens and adults get regular tetanus booster shots.

A person who has a dirty cut or wound should get a tetanus shot as soon as possible if at least 5 years have passed since his or her last tetanus immunization.

Last Revised: August 31, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

© 2014 St. Mary's Health System   |  3700 Washington Avenue  |  Evansville, IN 47750  |  (812) 485-4000