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Manual for the surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases. Chapter 16: Tetanus
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    Chapter 16 of: Manual for the surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases. 5th edition, 2011.

    Tetanus is an acute, potentially fatal disease that is characterized by generalized increased rigidity and convulsive spasms of skeletal muscles. Tetanus is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Clostridium tetani. C. tetani spores (the dormant form of the organism) are found in soil and in animal and human feces. The spores enter the body through breaks in the skin, and germinate under low-oxygen conditions. Puncture wounds and wounds with a significant amount of tissue injury are more likely to promote germination. The organisms produce a potent toxin tetanospasmin which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxin then reaches the nervous system, causing painful and often violent muscular contractions. The muscle stiffness usually first involves the jaw (lockjaw) and neck, and later becomes generalized. Tetanus is a noncommunicable disease—it is not transmitted from one person to another.


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