Prevention from Tetanus

The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ is most appropriate in the case of tetanus infections because it is so simple and easy to prevent. Expectant mothers should get immunized before the delivery so that they and their infants are protected even if the delivery happens unexpectedly in unsterile surroundings. Even in third world countries where adequate medical care in sterile conditions may not be available to expectant mothers, the incidence of neonatal tetanus can be greatly reduced by immunizing the mother during pregnancy. Tetanus toxoid shots are part of the DTaP vaccine that is given to all infants at the age of two months, four months, six months, with booster shots given a year later and after four years. The recommendation for adults is that they should get vaccinated, and get a booster shot every ten years. It is common practice in most healthcare centers in the west to administer a booster shot to anyone with a puncture wound, unless they have received a booster shot recently. Swelling, soreness and slight pain may be side effects of getting a booster shot.  

Simple common sense measures like wearing protective foot wear to prevent puncture wounds from rusty nails and using safety equipment like helmets and knee and elbow pads to cushion the body from a fall and avoid scrapes and abrasions are best ways to prevent tetanus infections. Saliva from animal bites and stings from insects can all be dangerous if the site of the puncture wound is not cleaned and medicated immediately. Rusty garden implements, blades and knives should be safely discarded. Protruding nails on fences, gates and doors need to be fixed immediately to avoid injuries, particularly in households with young children. Building awareness among children about the dangers of tetanus from unattended wounds can save lives. 
Frequently asked questions
  1. Amy Million, Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tetanus, Primary Care Update for OB/GYNS, Volume 4, Issue 3, May–June 1997, Pages 75-79, ISSN 1068-607X, 10.1016/S1068-607X(97)00006-1.
  2. Warfield M. Firor, The prevention and treatment of tetanus, The American Journal of Surgery, Volume 46, Issue 3, December 1939, Pages 450-453, ISSN 0002-9610, 10.1016/S0002-9610(39)90303-X.