Tetanus toxoid vaccine

Article written by :drSinchan
Dr. Sinchan Bhattacharyya
Chief Executive – Medical Admin
Peerless Hospital

I heard a story about a ghostly incident which had occurred in a village where my great grandmother lived. The story goes – “A group of children were playing in a ground when one child injured his foot. He had a small slit in the skin of the lower part of the foot which had induced bleeding. He didn’t stop. Nor did he wash the wound immediately. He continued playing for the rest of the evening and returned home late. Finally washed up, told his mother that he wasn’t feeling well and went of to sleep. At night he had fever, mild muscle spasm and body ache. The next morning he developed symptoms like jaw lock and severe muscle spasm which led to bending of the body. The bend was unimaginable. His family members rushed him to a ‘tantrik’ as they suspected that he was possessed by some unnatural force. They tried their best but it was in vain. Finally the child was lost. A life was lost.”

This was way back in the beginning of the 20th century when people did not know much about tetanus. A non communicable yet severe disease caused by a form of bacteria commonly found in the soil, dust or manure. Tetanus also known as lockjaw, is an infection caused by a bacterium named Clostridium tetani. This microorganism enters our body through a break in the skin such as a cut or a puncture wound by a contaminated object. It was first isolated in the year 1884 by a senior German physician Arthur Nicolaier. He had isolated the toxin of tetanus from free living, anaerobic soil bacteria. But finally in 1891, this bacterium was isolated from a human victim by a Japanese physician & bacteriologist Kitasato Shibasaburo.

Tetanus is seen to occur in all parts of the world but most frequently in hot and wet climatic conditions because the soil in these regions have a high organic content which helps the bacterium to survive.

The symptoms of the disease are spasm in the jaw, fever, headache, trouble swallowing, high blood pressure and fast heart rate. The spasm in the body may be very severe which leads to fracture of bones.

Arise of this severe situation can be prevented by immunization with tetanus vaccine within 24 to 72hrs from injury. After isolation of the bacterium in the year 1884, it took 40years to develop the vaccine in 1924. During the World War II, this vaccine helped prevent tetanus induced by battle wounds in the soldiers and general people. And now in the 21st century, we are safe from tetanus infection because the vaccine is readily available to all.

Hence, please be sure to take a tetanus toxoid vaccine even if you have the most minor cut in the skin. It protects you from developing major complications and life threatening situation.

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