A child can get many infections – bacterial as well as viral. Here we discuss another bacterial infection which can not only cause devastating effects but can be fatal as well.
Anyone can be affected by Tetanus but may become serious in babies and pregnant women who have not been appropriately vaccinated. However, off late, India has achieved success in eliminating the maternal and neonatal tetanus. It reduced to less than one case per 1 000 live births in the entire country. This is a huge achievement for India which until a few decades ago reported 150 000 to 200 000 neonatal tetanus cases annually.
Here are some interesting facts about Tetanus which all of us should be aware of:
1. Tetanus is also known as lockjaw. It is a disease caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani.
2. Tetanus cannot be passed from one person to another. The infection starts when the bacteria enter the body either through a cut or a wound on the skin’s surface.
3. The bacteria which causes tetanus is an anaerobe; meaning it can only live in the absence of oxygen. Thus an apt breeding ground for the same is deep wounds, wounds with dead cells and poorly cleaned wounds.
4. This bacteria is almost present everywhere. It is found in dust, soil and faeces of animals. Stamping on a rusty nail is good enough to contract the bacteria.
5. In infants, it can be found on the umbilical stump. This, however, is more common in children who have not been given the tetanus vaccine. It can also be seen in children whose umbilical stump is not looked after well.
6. When the tetanus bacteria enters the body it clings to the neurons and sends signals to produce spasms through the neurotoxin ‘tetanospasmin’.
7. Those children who have not been vaccinated for tetanus are at a higher risk of developing tetanus when they have a skin injury and the virus is active.
8. Once the bacteria enter a child’s body, the symptoms are visible in 3 to 21 days. In babies, the symptoms start showing in 3 days to 2 weeks. It is believed that if the entry of the bacteria is closer to the brain the symptoms show sooner and they are deadlier.
9. The most common symptoms of tetanus seen in a child are lockjaw or stiffness of the jaw, back and abdominal muscles, convulsions, sweating, fast pulse, painful muscle spasm and trouble in swallowing.
10. The symptoms often lead to misdiagnosis as they are similar to other health conditions. It is best to seek a doctor’s advice for the diagnosis of Tetanus.
11. Tetanus if not treated can lead to complications like breathing problems, broken bones due to spasm, infection in the lungs, spasm of the vocal cords, high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.
12. Treatment of tetanus depends on the age, health, symptoms and severity of a child. Treatment usually includes cleaning of the wound, tetanus antitoxin shots along with antibiotics. In severe cases, the child may need to be hospitalised. In this case, a tracheostomy (a small surgical opening made in front of the neck to facilitate breathing) may be performed and medicine to control spasms are administered.
13. Tetanus can be prevented by the Tetanus Vaccine. In children, the primary immunization schedule for children under 7 years of age should consist of five doses of tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine.
- The first 3 shots are given in the 6th, 10th and 14th week after birth
- 4th dose is given 3 years after the primary vaccination
- 5th dose is given as a booster dose to children between 13 to 18 years of age
Theme Reveal, A – Autism, B – Bronchiolitis, C – Celiac Disease, D – Dyslexia, E – Eating Disorders, F – Fever, G – GERD, H – Hand Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD), I – Imaginary Friends, J – Juvenile Arthritis, K – Kawasaki Disease, L – Leukaemia, M – Meningitis, N – Neuroblastoma, O – Omphalitis, P – Pica, Q – Q Fever, R – Retinoblastoma, S – SIDS