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What is Tetanus?

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Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) is a disease caused by bacteria that lives in dust and dirt. It is commonly transmitted through injuries via any cut that is contaminated with dirt, feces, saliva, deep wounds, burns, and injuries due to crushing.

Tetanus symptoms are very painful and consist of spasms of the muscles of the jaw, and other areas which cause those areas to “ lock”.  In serious cases a person may become unable to breathe and require immediate medical attention.

There is no direct person to person transmission of tetanus.

Where is it found?

Tetanus is found globally.  The bacteria that causes tetanus exists in dirt and dust in all areas of the world.

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a disease caused by bacteria that affects the throat.  Once the bacteria is in the blood stream it can damage nerves and organs such as the heart and kidneys which can affect you for the rest of your life. Transmission occurs through close physical or oral person to person contact.

Symptoms occur 2-5 days after infection and include mild fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, malaise and loss of appetite. Fatality rate occurs in 5-10% of cases.

Where is it found?

Diphtheria is found worldwide.  Outbreaks have occurred in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Diphtheria is uncommon in industrialized areas due to routine vaccination. In countries where vaccination coverage is low there is significant illness and death due to diphtheria.

Life-threatening complications due to diphtheria occur in endemic countries in the inadequately immunized or unimmunized traveller.

What is the vaccine?

The TD vaccine (Tetanus/diphtheria vaccine) protects against the two diseases

The Tetanus/diphtheria shot is the best way to protect against tetanus and diphtheria, which are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. When you get vaccinated, you help protect others as well. The Tetanus shot is good for everyone!

Who should get vaccinated?

Adults should get the Td vaccine every 10 years if they received a series earlier in life. This booster dose strengthens or boosts the immune system to give better protection against tetanus and diphtheria. The vaccine can also be given as a three-dose series to adults who have not been immunized or do not have a record of prior immunization. In addition, the vaccine may be given to people with serious cuts or deep wounds whose last tetanus vaccine was given 5 or more years ago.


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