Tetanus Essay

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Tetanus, or lockjaw is a serious infection caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria which produce a toxin that affects the brain and nervous system. The toxin leads to stiffness in the jaw muscles as well as other muscles. The infection can cause severe muscle spasms, serious breathing difficulties, and can ultimately be fatal. Clostridium tetani spores can be found most commonly in soil, dust and manure, but also exist virtually anywhere. If deposited in a wound the neurotoxin interferes with nerves that control muscle movement. Although tetanus treatment exists, it is not uniformly effective. The best way to protect yourself from tetanus is to have the vaccine. What are the symptoms of tetanus? Symptoms usually emerge about 10 days after initial infection, however this can vary from 4 days to about 3 weeks, and in some cases may take months. In general, the further the injury site is from the central nervous system, the longer the incubation period. Patients with shorter incubation periods tend to have more severe symptoms. Muscle symptoms - there are muscle spasms and muscular rigidity (muscles become stiff). Stiffness usually starts with the chewing muscles, hence the name lockjaw. Muscle spasms then spread to the neck and throat, causing dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Patients usually go on to have spasms in their facial muscles. Breathing difficulties may result from neck and chest muscle stiffness. With some patients, abdominal and limb muscles are also affected. In severe cases the spine will arch backwards as the back muscles are affected - this is more common when children are infected. Most patients will also have the following symptoms: Bloody stools (feces) Diarrhea Fever Headache Sensitivity to touch Sore throat Sweating Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) If the patient does not receive treatment the risk of

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