Tetanus Vaccine in Raleigh, NC
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that enters the body via compromised skin. Punctures, scrapes, severe burns, and cuts are all sites of vulnerability. The tetanus bacterium thrives in oxygen-poor environments including soil and manure, and once it invades the body, it travels via the circulatory system to the nervous system, where it secretes a neurotoxin that begins to inappropriately impede motor neurons. Its nickname “lockjaw” is a characteristic symptom where muscles of the jaw are affected so that the mouth is permanently closed. Muscle stiffness, cramping, and spasms are the major effects of the motor neuron’s malfunction.
Tetanus Symptoms and Treatment
An individual can become symptomatic as early as a few days after exposure or have a delayed response and become affected even weeks later. Frequent symptoms of a tetanus infection include:
- Lockjaw, the permanent closure of the jaw
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Facial contortions leading to odd facial expressions
- Neck stiffness
- Stomach spasms and cramping
- Arm and leg muscle spasms and cramping
- Fever and sweating
- Increased pulse and blood pressure
Once symptomatic, hospitalization is required for aggressive wound care, administration of antibiotics, medications to suppress muscle spasms and breathing treatments if the respiratory system has been affected. Antitoxin is also administered to inhibit tetanus’ effect on motor neurons. Tetanus has a 10-20% fatality rate, and its victims have decreased dramatically due to the availability of vaccines. There are about one million cases a year, but most of them are in underdeveloped countries where the vaccine is not readily available.
Available vaccines are administered in cocktails that also vaccinate against deadly pathogens that cause diphtheria (causes a black film in the throat, and can cause paralysis and heart failure) and pertussis (whooping cough). The vaccines below indicate which pathogen is targeted by using the letters D (diphtheria), d (reduced-dose diptheria) T (tetanus), t (reduced-dose tetanus), and P (pertussis)
The four vaccines are:
- DTaP: For children under 7. It is given in five rounds (initial dose and 4 boosters).
- DT: For children under 7 that were allergic or had a nervous system illness after a DTap injection.
- Tdap: Given to adolescents and adults. Women should receive a dose during each pregnancy.
- Td: A booster shot given to adults every ten years
The purpose behind a vaccine is that it gives the body’s immune system exposure to a weakened/deadened form of the bacterium so that it stimulates antibody protection against it. Antibodies are the immune system’s tools to identify and destroy pathogens. If antibodies that recognize tetanus are circulating in your blood, even if you are exposed to the germ, the bacteria can be eliminated before symptoms occur due to accelerated recognition and destruction.
Tetanus Vaccine Effectiveness
There is debate about the use of antibodies, but statistics for the tetanus vaccine support its effectiveness. In the 1940s when it was first reported, there were between 500 and 600 yearly cases. In the late 40s, the vaccine became available in the United States and is now standard medical practice. The infection rate has dramatically dropped since vaccine introduction, and between 2000-2009, there was only an average of 29 cases reported per year. Furthermore, nearly all the reported cases of tetanus are from individuals that were never vaccinated or adults that failed to receive the booster shot every decade.
Even though the number of infected people has decreased, the bacteria itself is very common, and prevention is an important part of staying healthy.
Request more information about tetanus vaccination today. Call (919) 301-0841 or contact Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD online.
Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD
Address8020 Creedmoor Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27613