Tetanus, also called “Locked jaw” is caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. It is a gram positive, anaerobic bacterium which is present in the soil in the form of spores, which can remain viable to cause an infection for years.
The symptoms of tetanus are due to the release of a neurotoxin called tetanospasmin. The tetanus infection does not transmit from person to person via contact, but if the person who is attending the patient has some open wounds or bruises, they become susceptible to tetanus infection, as these open wounds act as a portal of entry for the spores and cause infection followed by the symptoms of tetanus.
What are the symptoms of tetanus?
The symptoms of tetanus, following an infection, mainly involve the striated skeletal muscles, including those of the face and the limbs. Tetanus can be further divided into four types depending upon the symptoms present.
Symptoms of generalized tetanus include spasms of the facial muscles followed by spasms of the other skeletal muscles. The symptoms of tetanus follow a descending pattern with the spasm starting from the face to the lower limbs. The first symptom is the inability to open the mouth or “Lock jaw” or "Trismus." There are also spasms of the muscles of the face known as "Sardonicus." Later the spasm may involve the whole body and the body may bend like a bow which is called a "Ophisthotonus." Other symptoms include increased sweating, an increase in temperature, difficulty in breathing, and difficulty in swallowing.
The symptoms of neonatal tetanus are similar to that of generalized tetanus. The infection is acquired through an infected umbilical cord stump or if the mother is not properly immunized against tetanus during pregnancy.
The symptoms of local tetanus include the spasm or contraction of a particular group of muscles where the injury has taken place. Generalized tetanus is often preceded by this type of tetanus.
The symptoms of Cephalic tetanus involve the cranial nerves of the face. This type is usually followed by an infection of the middle ear or head injury.
Tetanus shot symptoms:
Tetanus shot symptoms include vomiting, local tenderness, fever, seizures, and allergic reactions and may often present with coma.
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