Tetanus infection confirmed in unvaccinated child
While the disease was considered eradicated among children for the past two decades, a few examples are registered every year among the elderly, who grew up before systemic vaccination against the disease was introduced.
An effective vaccine has been available in Slovenia since 1951 and systematic vaccination has significantly reduced the occurrence of the disease.
Babies are first vaccinated against tetanus in the first year of their life. They receive the first three shots of a combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, haemophilus influenzae and polio and than three more shots until they turn 18.
A booster dose is recommended once every ten years or in case of an injury.
Tetanus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in soil, dust and manure. The bacteria generally enter through a break in the skin such as a cut or puncture wound by a contaminated object.
The infection is characterized by muscle spasms. In the most common type, the spasms begin in the jaw and then progress to the rest of the body. Spasms may be so severe that bone fractures may occur or even death.
Other symptoms may include fever, sweating, headache, trouble swallowing, high blood pressure, and a fast heart rate.
The disease is lethal for newborns.