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Tetanus – what you need to know:
Tetanus is a bacterial infection caused by Clostridium Tetani. It spread when bacterial spores, present in soil, enter the body through exposed cuts and grazes. The disease causes severe muscle spasms and is often fatal. It is estimated there are some 1 million cases of tetanus per year. Over one third of these lead to death.
The symptoms take time to develop due to the incubation period lasting between four and 21 days. The symptoms are:
- muscular spasm of the jaw (otherwise known as lock jaw), and back as well as other locations,
- the toxin can also result in the onset of seizures,
- high fever,
- high blood pressure,
- rapid heartbeat
- and heavy sweating.
The vaccine is usually given as a triple vaccine also know as DTP. It also vaccinates against Diphtheria and Polio. In the UK, the DTP vaccination is part of the childhood immunisation schedule.
Where are the risk areas?
The tetanus bacterium can be found in many areas of the world. It is particularly prevalent in:
- throughout Africa,
- and in certain South American countries including Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.
How old to you have to be to have the vaccine?
The DTP vaccine can be given to those aged 6 years and over.
How long does immunity last for?
Immunity is thought to last for up to 10 years, after which a booster dose is usually recommended.
Are there any side effects to the vaccine?
Following administration of the vaccine flu-like symptoms can occur which should subside within 1-2 weeks.
Click here for our vaccination price list
Patient information leaflet on http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/PIL.17378.latest.pdf