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Tetanus

Tetanus is spread by a toxin that has been released from a common dust or soil bacetrium found throughout the world

After entering the body, the bacterium spores germinate and produce toxins which affect the nervous system. Tetanus is sometimes referred to as "lockjaw" due to the spasms of the nerves.

 

How is Tetanus spread?

The bacterium spores are abundant in the environment, and can be carried in the intestines of animals (including humans) which are then excreted into the soil.

After entering the body through a wound (no matter how small), the spores germinate and produce toxins which affect the nervous system.

 

What are the symptoms of Tetanus?

These can include:

• Weakness

• Stiffness and body cramps

• Painful muscle contractions especially in the neck and face

• Painful and violent spasms

• Arched back and contracted facial muscles

 

Who is at risk?

Those who have not been vaccinated. The primary course of vaccines must be completed and if travelling, a Tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years.

In all developed countries, tetanus has become a disease of older adults. Adult population coverage is thought to be poor as vaccination is not actively promoted in this age group and is often triggered only by an injury event.

 

 

How to avoid Tetanus

Effective individual protection against tetanus can only be achieved through active immunisation. Unlike other vaccine-preventable diseases, there is no possibility of herd immunity and immunity cannot be naturally acquired.

Adults who have not received a primary course of tetanus vaccine should have three doses of combined tetanus-diphtheria vaccine at least one month apart. In New Zealand, adult boosters are recommended at age 45 years and at 65 years.

Travellers are advised to have boosters 10 yearly.

 

Further information about Tetanus

Please note that the recommendations given are general guidelines as to what may be required for a trip to these countries. However, they really do depend on many factors of your travel itinerary and medical history. All travellers are strongly advised to make an appointment to see a WORLDWISE Travel Doctor for up to date advice (including a vaccination plan and anti-malaria recommendations) tailored specifically to your upcoming trip.

Remember, our Travel Health Specialists are travellers too and have probably been to the region that you are going to. They appreciate the importance of enjoying a problem-free trip and of staying healthy abroad.

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Countries at risk of Tetanus

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