Hesperian Health Guides
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Tetanus is a deadly infection that gets into a wound or the umbilical cord, and then spreads throughout the body.
- Fast pulse.
- Tense contractions of all the muscles.
- During contractions, breathing may stop.
- Extreme muscle spasms that come and go.
- Lockjaw (cannot open the mouth easily).
- Stiff neck and a stiff, board-hard belly.
Get medical help fast for these signs!
Tetanus is much easier to prevent than to treat. Vaccination and good wound cleaning are the best prevention. For a vaccination schedule, see Vaccines (in development).
Wounds most likely to develop tetanus
- Puncture wounds.
- Gunshot wounds.
- Broken bones, when the bone pokes
through the skin (open fractures).
- Severe burns or frostbite.
- Unsafe abortions and injections or piercings with reused, unsterilized needles can also lead to tetanus.
My turn next.
Newborns become infected with tetanus through the umbilical cord. You can protect infants by cutting the cord with a boiled blade, by keeping the cord clean, and by vaccinating the pregnant mother. See Vaccines (in development).