Notes on the symptoms, prevention and treatment of Tetanus (Lock jaw)


Tetanus is caused by tetanus bacilli which are present in dirt and mud. When there is an out-let on the body and proper cleanliness is not maintained, the germs of tetanus enter the body and causes of disease, affecting the motor end plates in skeletal system, the spinal cord, the brain and the sympathetic system. The incubation period is usually 6 to 10 days.


The first indications of the trouble are irritability and restlessness with headache and chills. Gradually the neck becomes stiff and there is difficulty in chewing and swallowing. There is spasm of the jaw muscles which accounts for the name ‘Lock jaw’. Then the patient begins to develop spasms all over the body and those spasms are excited by any effort such as swallowing. The back is bent on spine due to painful spasm (contraction) of the back muscles which resembles a bow.


Mode of spread

This disease spreads through germs present in dirt, cow dung and mud. When there is a cut/injury on the body and if the germs present in the mud/cow dung enter the wound, they may cause tetanus. In case of children, while playing, if they get in jury and the wound is not treated properly the germs may enter the body and cause tetanus.

Similarly, an injury may lead to tetanus in adults also. In case of neonate’s, if the umbilical cord is cut with unsterilised instrument that causes tetanus in the newborn.

Tetanus may be caused within seven days to one month of injury. Even a small injury may lead to tetanus and hence it should not be neglected.



Take the child to the doctor immediately when you observe the symptoms of tetanus. Medical advice must be sought immediately if the child has difficulty in swallowing or locked jaw. Do not disturb or make noises around a patient suffering from tetanus. Keep the patient in darkness. This disease is fatal for most children and neonates.


Tetanus is best prevented by active immunization with tetanus toxid. A woman should take two injection of tetanus toxoid at an interval of one month, as soon as pregency is confirmed in order to prevent tetanus in the neonates Moreover; delivery should be conducted by a trained birth attendant of nurse. DPT-triple vaccine should be given when the child is 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and months old and a booster dose when the child is between 18-25 months of age and DT at 5 years. Besides, when a person/older child are injured he/she should take an injection of tetanus toxoid and another shot after one month.

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