Tetanus transmission, clinical signs and treatment

Paulius Bajerčius1

1Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania 


Tetanus is an infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. The bacteria are transmitted through wounds following animal bites, or during contact with soil, dirt, dust or unclean instruments, any of which could carry Clostridium tetani spores. The main symptoms of tetanus are muscle spasms and rigidity. Tetanus is a dangerous disease due to its treatment methods not being able to guarantee survival, hence, as a prevention effort, effective tetanus immunization measures are undertaken around the world using the DTAP (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus toxoid) vaccine. Nevertheless, the morbidity and mortality of tetanus remains, thus it is still a serious problem, especially in developing countries as well as one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths worldwide. Since tetanus is not as prevalent as it was before, it and especially its rarer forms are not encountered as much. This leads to diminished experience treating the disease as well as slower diagnoses. Because tetanus is potentially lethal, it is essential to recognize both its transmission risk factors and clinical signs, and begin treatment as quickly as possible.

Keywords: tetanus, transmission, clinical signs, treatment.