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If someone steps on a rusty nail, one of the first questions they are usually asked is if they have had a tetanus shot recently. The importance of getting a tetanus shot is common knowledge, but what even is tetanus?

Tetanus is an illness caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. Tetanus is also known as “lockjaw” because one of the most common signs is tightening of the jaw muscles. Tetanus can also cause muscle stiffness or spasms, seizures, trouble swallowing, or fever. Tetanus is a serious illness and 2 out of 10 cases are fatal.

There are many ways someone may be exposed to clostridium tetani, but the most common way is due to a contaminated wound that breaks the skin. Puncture wounds tend to carry the highest risk. Luckily, we have a tetanus vaccine that will prevent the illness if the patient is up to date on their tetanus shot. Tetanus vaccination is part of routine childhood immunizations, but for adults, a tetanus shot is recommended every 10 years. It can also be given after 5 years if there is a severe high risk wound or burn.

If needed, we can help you at 45 Urgent Care. Open from 8am to 8pm, Monday through Saturday 🙂


Joshua White PA-C