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Tetanus, commonly called lockjaw, is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. It is contracted through a wound that becomes contaminated with tetanus bacteria. The bacteria can get in through even a tiny pinprick or scratch, but deep puncture wounds or cuts like those made by nails or knives are especially susceptible to infection with tetanus. Tetanus bacteria are present worldwide and are commonly found in soil, dust and manure. Infection with tetanus can cause severe muscle spasms and "locking" of the jaw so the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.

The DTaP, Td, and Tdap vaccines all protect against tetanus.

Children need a total of five doses of DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15 months and 4-6 years.

Persons 11 years and older are recommended to receive a Tdap booster.

Pregnant women should receive Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably in the third trimester between the 27th and 36th week.

Adults need a tetanus booster every 10 years after the primary series has been completed.

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Last modified on: 6/22/2016 12:04 PM