Tetanus is a severe bacterial disease that affects the nervous system and causes muscle contractions in the jaw and neck. Once the bacteria enters your system, it may inhibit your ability to breathe, swallow or speak. This is typically known as ‘lockjaw’. Spasms of the jaw or facial muscles may follow, spreading to the hands, arms, legs, and back and blocking breathing. Spasms are often caused by noise or touch. This ultimately leads to losing one’s life. 

Tetanus is contagious and may transmit from person to person. Bacterial spores usually enter the body through insect bites, rusty objects, needle injections, burns, bruises or umbilical cords.

The tetanus vaccines that are readily available everywhere, have reduced the prevalence of tetanus greatly.​​

The incubation period of Tetanus is around eight days. The common symptoms in order of appearance are: 

  • Stiffness in your jaw muscles

  • Stiffness of your neck muscles

  • Difficulty in swallowing

  • Stiffness of your abdominal muscles

  • Painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light

Apart from above, following are few other signs and symptoms which may appear:

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Fever

  • Sweating

  • Rapid heart rate​​

Immediately see a doctor and get vaccinated if you have been bruised by any rusty or old object, if you have had an insect bite or have fallen down and faced an open wound. Take the vaccine shot if your pet has bitten you or you have been bitten by any stray animal or if you have fallen on animal faeces and have an open wound. 

Usually a tetanus injection can build your immunity against the infection for five years, but it is always safe to consult the doctors at the Internal Medicine Service Line​ at the Aga Khan University Hospital.​​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​
Symptoms of tetanus present themselves very clearly and your doctor will be able to easily diagnose you on the basis of what signs you show and your history.

There is no cure for tetanus. The treatment revolves around taking care of the patient and providing supportive treatment.

Your doctor may prescribe medications to fight the bacteria.  Your doctor may also administer sedatives to relax your muscles from spasms and contraction. He/she may also give you another vaccine shot to prevent the bacteria from affecting you in the future.

Tetanus infection often requires a long period of treatment in an intensive care setting. Since sedatives may result in shallow breathing, you may need to be supported temporarily by a ventilator.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​
to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.