Tetanus Essay, Research Paper


Tetanus is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease caused by the

infection of a puncture wound in the skin by spores containing

the bacterium, Clostridium tetani. These bacterial spores are

commonly found in soil, animal excrement, house dust, operating

rooms, contaminated heroin, and most surprisingly the human

colon. The bacteria that causes tetanus cannot grow in the

presence of oxygen. That is why the bacteria do not grow in

shallow or wide wounds exposed to air. The way these spores enter

your body is through a wound that penetrates the skin and extends

deeper than oxygen can reach. The spores then produce a nerve

toxin as they multiply and enter the bloodstream. The newly

produced nerve toxin causes spasms and convulsions by interfering

with the nerves that control muscles. The toxin moves inward

towards the spine at about 10 inches a day. Once tetanus has

spread, the mortality rate is approximately 40%. The tetanus

bacteria commonly live in the intestines of both animals and


As mentioned earlier, tetanus is found in soil, animal

excrement, house dust, operating rooms, contaminated heroin, and

the human colon, but the most prevalent way of communication is

through animal bites. Wild animals are perfect carriers for

tetanus, and with nature?s constant unpredictability there is

always a chance of infection. There is also many unknown ways of

infection that you may never have thought were possible for

tetanus; such as stomach ulcers and infected umbilical cords.

Symptoms are extensive and painful, some of which include

uncontrollable spasms, stiff jaw and neck muscles, difficulty

swallowing, slight fever, headache, chills, involuntary

contraction of muscles, and irritability. Typically the first

symptoms are felt eight to twelve days after infection. In severe

infections it takes only a minor stimulus to trigger s seizure.

If muscle spasms develop early, chances of recovery are poor.

Some of the most common risk factors occur in people who

have not had recent booster vaccinations against the disease.

Fortunately there are only about 50 cases a year that are

reported in this country. Of those 50 about three quarters are

elderly people or people who have never been immunized. Though an

estimated one million infants die of tetanus in developing

countries each year because of poor hygiene.

If tetanus ever develops in your body you must seek medical

attention immediately. You may receive a course of antibiotics

and an injection of tetanus antitoxin. Other treatments include

medications such as chlorpromazine, diazepam, and you may even

require the aid of an artificial respirator or other life support

measures during the first couple weeks.

Prevention is of the most importance since tetanus is often

fatal, even with expert treatment. The two major means of

prevention are immunization and wound care. Immunizations should

be given at least every 10 years and possibly sooner. When you

have a wound, even a tiny scratch there is always a possibility

of contracting tetanus. You can never be too careful, so take

every precaution and take care of yourself. You never know when

you could have tetanus.





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