Thursday, April 4, 2019

VIDEO: Protect Yourself Against Tetanus: Bacterial Infection Attacks Muscles

Editor's Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. will post a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured will include: Flu, Measles, Pneumococcal disease, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Chickenpox and shingles, Hepatitis A, Pertussis (whooping cough), Rubella (also known as German measles), Rotavirus, Polio, and Mumps.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

In this short video, Tyler family physician and Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leader Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, explains how people can contract tetanus, the severity of its symptoms, and the recommended vaccinations for children, teenagers, and adults to fight against this disease.

Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by a bacterial spores called Clostridium tetani, found in the environment  from dirt, to dust, to feces. When these spores enter the body through broken skin whether it's a cut from sharp objects, animal bites, or a bike accident  tetanus can develop. Tetanus is often called lockjaw because infected patients experience painful muscle spasms throughout the body – especially the jaw area. Other symptoms include muscle stiffness, trouble swallowing, headache, fever, difficulty breathing, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Tetanus symptoms can show up in as early as three days to three weeks, according to Dr. Mitchell.

Tetanus cases in the United States have dropped since 1900, when physicians raised awareness about better wound care...and they plummeted in the 1940's after the vaccine became available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tetanus cases numbered about 600 on average to about 30 today.

The shot prevents it. People of all ages can protect themselves from this disease with a vaccine. There are different recommended vaccines available, depending on a person's age. Young children usually receive the diptheria-tetanus-accellular pertussis (DTaP) or diphtheria-tetanus (DT) vaccine in five rounds: at 2, 4, and 6 months; between 15 and 18 months; and between 4 and 6 years of age.  Preteens ages 11 to 12 are strongly encouraged to get the tetanus-diptheria-pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus-diptheria (Td) booster. The CDC recommends adults get a booster every 10 years. Today's tetanus cases in the U.S. occur in unvaccinated adults, or adults who did not get their booster shot, according to the CDC.

In addition to getting vaccinated, doctors recommend people wash hands with soap and water frequently, and to treat and break in the skin as quickly as possible to avoid tetanus.

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