Expected duration of Tetanus

By  , Expert Content
Jul 07, 2012

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Tetanus occurs globally but is more common in countries where immunisation coverage is poor. Everywhere in the world, tetanus occurs in people who are inadequately immunised. Tetanus is a serious disease which is considered a medical emergency. The patient has to be treated in a hospital with tetanus immune globulin (TIG) (human or equine antitoxin. If human immune globulin is not available, tetanus toxoid vaccine, medicines to control muscle spasm, wound care and antibiotics as indicated would be given.

Expected duration of tetanus

Clinical course of tetanus is variable and affected by several factors including:

  • Immunity because of prior vaccination — Even incomplete immunisation is associated with milder and shorter course of disease.
  • Amount of toxin present — Severely contaminated wounds or wounds of umbilicus, uterus, head, and neck predict a more severe and prolonged disease.
  • Age —  Neonatal tetanus tends to have a more severe and prolonged course. Some factors which increase the severity of disease are age less than 10 days, symptoms for less than 5 days, presence of risus sardonicus, weight less than 2.5 kg, and fever.
  • Overall health of the patient.

A person with tetanus has to be admitted in a hospital for treatment. Muscle spasm and rigidity may last for about 3-4 weeks and then improve slowly. After the spasms improve, complete recovery can take several months. Recovery is complete in most cases if the person survives the infection (there is no residual damage to brain or body).



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