Working outside, don’t forget the tetanus shots

Todd G. Higdon

With people around the country cleaning up after recent storms, those working outside might want to think about getting a tetanus shot.

Tetanus is a serious disease that is caused by bacteria found in dust, soil and manure.

According to the Newton County, Mo., Health Department, “Tetanus bacteria can enter the body through many different wounds, from a pinprick to a deep puncture wound.

Any type of injury that breaks the skin can lead to a tetanus infection if tetanus enters the body through broken skin and the person is not properly vaccinated against tetanus.”

Tetanus can come from cuts, lacerations, scrapes, splinters, body piercing, surgical wounds, injection drug use, tattoos, animal bites and long-term ear infection.

“The most obvious symptom of tetanus is muscle cramping throughout the body, especially cramping of the jaw muscles,” said Patti Yates of the health department. “This is where the name ‘lockjaw’ comes from, it is another name that the tetanus disease is commonly referred to as.”

The symptoms usually begin about eight days after infection, but onset may range from three days to three weeks. And about 11 percent of those infected with the tetanus infection will die. Most deaths from tetanus occur in adults aged 60 or older.

Tetanus is not contagious from person-to-person. It is the only vaccine-preventable disease that is infectious, but not contagious.

“All children get tetanus shots as part of their routine vaccinations,” said Yates. “Adults need to have a tetanus booster every 10 years. If it has been five years since your last vaccine and you receive a wound, a booster is suggested. Teens receive their last booster around ninth grade, so will need to have a booster at about age 24 or 25.

“To prevent tetanus make sure your vaccinations are up to date,” said Yates.

Neosho Daily News