This is the time of year when many folks are outside working in their flower beds/gardens; planting and tending to crops; working on weekend projects such as decks, porches, buildings, etc. it is a good idea to think about when you had your last tetanus vaccination. If it has been 10 years since you received a vaccine that contains tetanus, then it is time for a booster. If you are injured and it has been more than five years, it is time for a booster.
Tetanus is an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. Spores of tetanus bacteria are everywhere in the environment including soil, dust and manure. The spores develop into bacteria when they enter the body.
The spores can get into the body through broken skin, usually through injuries from contaminated objects. Certain breaks in the skin are more likely to get infected with tetanus bacteria. These include:
· Wounds contaminated with dirt, human waste (feces), or spit (saliva)
· Wounds caused by an object puncturing the skin (puncture wounds), like a nail or needle
· Crush injuries
· Injuries with dead tissue
The incubation period — time from exposure to illness — is usually between three and 21 days (average 10 days), although it may range from one day to several months depending on the kind of wound. Most cases occur within 14 days. In general, shorter incubation periods are seen with more heavily contaminated wounds, more serious disease, and a worse outcome (prognosis).
The most common initial sign is spasms of the muscles of the jaw, or “lockjaw”. Tetanus symptoms include: •Jaw cramping• Sudden, involuntary muscle tightening (muscle spasms) – often in the stomach• Painful muscle stiffness all over the body• Trouble swallowing •Jerking or staring (seizures)• Headache• Fever and sweating •Changes in blood pressure and fast heart rate.
The Meigs County Health Department offers Tetanus boosters to people two months and older with commercial insurance through VaxCare. We offer vaccine to Medicaid eligible or uninsured children through 18 years of age through the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Vaccine for Children Program. Through the ODH 317 Adult Vaccine Program, Tetanus vaccine is available for those aged 19 and up without any type of insurance coverage. Walk-in clinics are Tuesdays from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Vaccines are given on other weekdays by appointment. Call Sherry Hayman, RN at 7409926626 for more information.
Sherry Hayman, RN, is a public health nurse with the Meigs County Health Department.