Most of us have never seen or heard of anyone who had tetanus. That's a good thing because it's a bad disease. And right now during hurricane cleanup, we're most at risk for it. If it's been 10 years since your last tetanus shot, it may be a good idea to get one.
All over the Coastal Bend area, there's something that needs to be cleaned up. And people are getting hurt.
Tetanus can be passed on by coming into contact with soil, especially in this environment with a lot of debris, a lot of splinters, rusty nails, and broken fences that can scratch you.
It's rare because the tetanus vaccination works so well. But if you get it, it's nasty.
Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and can threaten your life. Tetanus is commonly known as "lockjaw."
Spores of the bacteria that cause tetanus, Clostridium tetani, are found in soil, dust and animal feces. When they enter a deep flesh wound, spores grow into bacteria that can produce a powerful toxin, tetanospasmin, which impairs the nerves that control your muscles.
Signs and symptoms of tetanus appear anytime from a few days to several weeks after tetanus bacteria enter your body through a wound. The average incubation period is seven to 10 days.
Common signs and symptoms of tetanus include:
· Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles (trismus)
· Stiffness of your neck muscles
· Difficulty swallowing
· Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
· Painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light
· Elevated blood pressure
· Rapid heart rate
When to see a doctor:
See your doctor for a tetanus booster shot if you have a deep or dirty wound and you haven't had a booster shot in five years. If you aren't sure of when your last booster was, get a booster.
Or see your doctor about a tetanus booster for any wound especially if it might have been contaminated with dirt, animal feces or manure, if you haven't had a booster shot within the past 10 years or aren't sure of when you were last vaccinated.