Treatment may include:
Breathing support with oxygen, a breathing tube, and a breathing machine may be necessary.
Without treatment, one out of four infected people die. The death rate for newborns with untreated tetanus is even higher. With proper treatment, less than 10% of infected patients die.
Wounds on the head or face seem to be more dangerous than those on other parts of the body. If the person survives the acute illness, recovery is generally complete. Uncorrected episodes of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) caused by muscle spasms in the throat may lead to irreversible brain damage.
Call your health care provider if you have an open wound, particularly if:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have never been immunized against tetanus as an adult or child, if your children have not been immunized, or if you are unsure of your tetanus immunization (vaccine) status.
Reddy P, Bleck TP. Clostridium tetani(Tetanus). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolan R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Orlando, FL: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 244.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011 immunization schedules for children 0 to 18 years of age. October 28, 2010.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule United States, 2011 Proposed Revisions, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. October 28, 2010.
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