Overview of Tetanus (clostridium Tetani)
Tetanus is an acute fatal disease of nervous system that is caused by neurotoxins produced by bacterium Clostridium tetani. Bacterial infection occurs through a deep wound caused by standing on nails or cutting yourself with a knife. Tetanus is also referred as lockjaw and is characterized by muscle spasms which begin in the jaw and travels to rest of the body. If left untreated it can lead to death and most countries now have vaccination program that prevents tetanus from spreading. If wound is larger, tetanus immune globulins are recommended.
Causes and Risk Factors of Tetanus (clostridium Tetani)
The Tetanus bacteria lives in soil, dust, saliva or manure and can infect a person through contaminated wounds. Deep wounds or those with dead tissue are particularly prone to tetanus infection. The bacteria can infect a person even through puncture wounds such as those caused by nails, splinters or insect bites. C. tetani are anaerobic bacteria that can survive well in rough surfaces of rusty metals. The risk factors would be not being immunized against the bacteria, or not cleaning the wound properly once occurred. The tetanus toxin amplifies the chemical signal from the nerve to the muscle by blocking the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters, which causes the muscles to tighten up in a continuous contraction or spasm.
Signs and Symptoms of Tetanus (clostridium Tetani)
The signs and symptoms of tetanus can occur anywhere from three days to three weeks after infection. It starts with mild spasms in jaw muscles. Facial, neck, back, chest and abdominal muscles may also be affected. Other symptoms include drooling, trouble with swallowing, restlessness and irritability, excessive sweating, fever, heart attack, breathing problems, irregular heartbeat, suffocation, uncontrolled urination or defecation. Tetanus is very life-threatening, that in spite of treatment 10% of patients die. The mortality rate is higher in unvaccinated people and people over 60 years of age.