Tetanus is an infection characterized by a state of generalized hypertonia that manifests in the form of painful muscle spasms of the jaw and neck. The disease most commonly occurs in those who are not vaccinated or in the elderly with waning immunity. Currently, vaccination campaigns have decreased the incidence and prevalence of tetanus worldwide. The spasms from tetanus may last from minutes to weeks, with spasms starting in the face and then descending to the rest of the body. Symptoms are caused by toxins produced by the bacterium, Clostridium tetani. Based on the clinical features, there are four main types of tetanus.
Tetanus, a clinical diagnosis, has no particular laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment includes tetanus immunoglobulin, antibiotic therapy, neuromuscular blockade, and supportive care for respiratory complications, autonomic instability, and muscle spasms. Full tetanus immunization is required after recovery from the disease. Long-term sequelae have been reported from survivors.