Prevent Tetanus. Get A Booster.
by Joseph D. Tabora, M.D.
This article starts below.
Tetanus is a potentially fatal infection that can be effectively prevented by getting a tetanus booster every 5-10 years.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is an infection caused by a club-shaped bacteria called Clostridium tetani. The organism is widely found in the soil. It gains entry to the human body through wounds contaminated by soil. Once inside the body, it produces a toxin called tetanospasmin which attacks the nerve cells in the lower brain and spinal cord causing rigidity and spasm of muscles.
Tetanus can kill
Tetanus can be fatal if the muscles in the upper airway become rigid (laryngospasm). The muscles used for breathing may also become rigid, preventing the process of normal breathing.
How the booster helps
The booster contains a slightly altered form of the tetanus toxin. Upon getting a booster, the body creates antibodies against the toxin. As a result, the toxin that the bacteria produces is immediately inactivated before it can produce its unwanted effects.
Best time to get the booster
The formation of antibodies against the toxin takes time. The lag between booster injection and antibody formation may delay the booster's efficacy when given after tetanus exposure. The booster is most reliable when it is given before any exposure to the tetanus toxin. That way, the antibodies are already formed when an infection occurs.
Who should get the booster
All adults should get a booster every 5-10 years. And the best time to get it is today.