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What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes painful, uncontrolled muscle spasms. Because of widespread immunization, tetanus is now rare. Another name for tetanus is lockjaw.

What is the infectious agent that causes tetanus?

Tetanus is caused by a toxin (poison) produced by spores of the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Spores are hardy forms of the bacteria that can survive in the environment in an inactive state for a long time.

Where is tetanus found?

Tetanus occurs worldwide. Tetanus spores are found throughout the environment, usually in soil, dust, and animal waste

How do people get tetanus?

Tetanus spores can enter the body through a wound that is contaminated with soil, dust, or animal waste. Spores can get into the body through even a tiny pinprick or scratch, but they usually enter through deep puncture wounds or cuts, like those made by nails or knives. Tetanus spores can also get into the body when skin is damaged by burns or by injecting contaminated street drugs. Once the spores enter a wound, they produce a powerful nerve poison that spreads through the body and causes painful symptoms.


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