Vaccination and Tetanus

Topics: Tetanus, Vaccination, Immune system Pages: 5 (1740 words) Published: December 1, 2005
Tetanus is a very serious disease and is frequently called lockjaw (National Coalition for Adult Immunization). It was first discovered by a Japanese researcher, Kitasato, in 1889(Family health and family guide). This disease effects the nervous system and is caused by bacteria. It is contracted through a cut or wound that becomes infected. This bacteria is called Clostridium tatani (The doctors from medicine net .com). This bacteria is found all over the world in things such as soil, dust, and manure or the intestines of human beings (National Coalition for Adult Immunization). Tetanus is most common in warm climates and in highly cultivated rural areas ( Wyngaarden, James 1390). The bacteria can get in through even a tiniest scratches, but deep puncture wounds or cuts like those made by nails or knives are especially vulnerable to infection with tetanus. If infected with the disease it causes severe muscle spasms, leading to the jaw to be locked. This gives the bacteria it's name lockjaw. With it's prey having a locked jaw this means that they are unable to open their mouth or swallow, and may even in some cases, lead to death by suffocation (National Coalition for Adult Immunization).

The tetanus toxin affects the place of contact between the nerve and the muscle that it stimulates. This area is called the neuromuscular junction. This tetanus toxin makes the chemical signal from the nerve to the muscle which causes the muscles to tighten up in a huge convulsion or spasm (The doctors from medicine net .com).

The first common signs of tetanus are a headache and muscular stiffness in the jaw, as the poison spreads, it starts to attack more groups of muscles, causing spasms to eventually lead to the neck, arms, legs, and stomach, and sometimes convulsions or seizures. Symptoms usually begin in about eight days after the infection but can range anywhere from three days to three weeks (Health Promotion and education). In general, the shorter the time between the introduction and symptoms, the more severe the disease can get (National Coalition for Adult Immunization).

Some measures to treat the sources of the bacterial infection are done mostly with antibiotics and are done in the hospital while the patient is monitored for any signs of reduced breathing. Medicine is often given to help with the muscle spasms. In serious cases, breathing assistance with an artificial respirator machines may be needed to help the patients (National Coalition for Adult Immunization). If the toxin is already circulating in the body, it is evened out with antitoxin drugs. The tetanus toxin does not cause any permanent damage to the nervous system after the patient recovers. After recovery, patients still require active immunization because having the tetanus disease one time does not mean natural immunization against the same thing happening again (The doctors from medicine net .com).

Preventing tetanus is very simple. Tetanus shots play a huge role in the prevention of the bacteria. Being careful to protect the skin from being penetrated be the tetanus bacteria are also important. For example, things should be done to help avoid stepping on nails or any other material that may cause cuts or punctures. To help stop these things you should wear shoes. If something does happen to create a cut, it should be completely cleaned with soap and water and medical care should be received (National Coalition for Adult Immunization).

All children should be immunized against tetanus. They should receive a total of five DPT vaccinations starting when the child is two months of age and completed at about five years of age (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). DTP stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis. The DTP vaccine is a combination of all three into one (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The first shot is given when the child is two months of age, and second and third...
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