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Tetanus 

Tetanus
Chapter:
Tetanus
Author(s):

C. Louise Thwaites

, and Lam Minh Yen

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0127
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date: 27 February 2021

Clostridium tetani is a Gram-positive spore-forming anaerobic bacillus able to infect and cause disease in both humans and animals. The bacterium is highly sensitive to oxygen but can survive in the environment as an extremely resistant metabolically inactive spore. Under suitable anaerobic conditions the spore germinates and the bacteria multiply, releasing a highly potent neurotoxin, tetanus toxin, which is responsible for the clinical features of tetanus. Tetanus is a disease characterized by muscle spasms caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium tetani. Without treatment mortality is high due to muscle spasms which prevent respiration or due cardiovascular system instability secondary to autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Tetanus is prevented by good wound hygiene and/or vaccination and, although rare in developed countries, the disease remains a significant problem in many countries where facilities for treatment are often poor and mortality remains high.

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