Christiane Fux

Christiane Fux studied journalism and psychology in Hamburg. Since 2001, the experienced medical editor writes magazine articles, news and specialist texts on all conceivable health topics. In addition to her work for lifelikeinc.com, Christiane Fux also works in prose. Her first thriller appeared in 2012, as well as writing, designing and publishing her own crime thrillers.

More posts by Christiane FuxTetanus is a dangerous bacterial infectious disease. Infection occurs through contaminated wounds. Even the smallest injuries can be enough. The poison of bacteria causes painful and long-lasting muscle spasms. If left untreated, tetanus seizure is lethal. Even under intensive care, many patients die. That's why vaccination is important to every person. Read here how to get infected with tetanus, what symptoms it causes and what you can do.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. A34A33Z27A35ArtikelübersichtTetanus

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • vaccination
  • Disease course and prognosis

Quick Overview

  • Description: bacterial infection, bacterial toxins cause severe muscle spasms, untreated lethal course through respiratory paralysis
  • symptoms: Oral blockage, "devil's grin", dysphagia, laryngeal paralysis, irritability, restlessness, extreme cramping of the trunk muscles, overstretched back up to vertebral fracture, respiratory paralysis
  • Causes: Infection with Clostridium tetani even over the smallest wounds, spores in the soil or animal excrement, multiplies where oxygen is lacking (therefore superficial wounds are less dangerous than deeper ones)
  • Diagnosis: typical symptoms after injury, detection of the bacterium in the serum
  • Treatment: Cutting the wound edges, administering antibodies, intensive care treatment with oxygen supply, if necessary ventilation
  • Forecast: untreated almost always fatal, under intensive care treatment death rate up to 20 percent
To the table of contents

Tetanus: description

Tetanus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The spores of the bacterium are found in the faeces of animals, especially horses, and mainly in the soil. The spores are very resistant and can last a long time without a host. They multiply only in the anaerobic environment, ie in the absence of oxygen.

You get through minor injuries in the human body. Your poison then also migrates into the brain and spinal cord. Often a small incision or splinter in the skin is sufficient for the infection. Transmission from person to person is not possible in tetanus, so sick people are not contagious.

How to Get Infected with Tetanus Tetanus is caused by bacteria that can survive in the soil for a long time. Already over the smallest wounds, the bacteria enter the body and multiply there.

Tetanus: That happens in the body

The bacteria produce two toxins:

The one, tetanolysin, destroys the red blood cells and may also damage the heart.

The second poison the bacteria produce is tetanospasmin, It migrates along the nerves and eventually reaches the central nervous system. The poison inhibits nerve impulses that normally prevent excessive muscle contractions. If this inhibitory control instance fails, the nerves are greatly hyperexcitable. The result is strong, long-lasting, agonizing muscle spasms that are typical of tetanus.

Tetanus: incubation period

The time span between infection and onset of the first symptoms (incubation period) is very different for tetanus. With fast progressions, the first signs of illness appear after only a few days; in other cases, it takes up to three weeks. Even cases in which it only came to months after symptoms are described. If the incubation period is very short, many pathogens may have entered the body at the same time. The disease is then particularly difficult.