Tetanus is a serious disease of the central nervous system that is caused by bacteria that is found in soil. The disease is spread through open cuts and wounds that have been contaminated with infected soil. Animal bites are also a rare potential hazard. Tetanus infection is found throughout the world. Early symptoms of the disease include stiffness of the jaw muscles (lockjaw), difficulties swallowing and muscle spasms. The disease can spread to affect more muscles in the body including the respiratory muscles. This can cause difficulties with breathing. Tetanus infection can be fatal and treatment requires intensive medical care.
Recommendations for travellers
The UK national vaccination programme for children and young people includes tetanus, the standard primary schedule is for 5 doses. Even with full primary immunisation iIf travelling to an area of the world where it is difficult to get good medical care you should have a booster dose of tetanus vaccine unless a dose has been received within the preceding 10 years. A combination vaccine, Revaxis, is available to protect adults against tetanus as well as diphtheria and polio. As with all vaccines the clinical staff will advise during the travel consultation on all aspects of the procedure including vaccine dose schedule, contraindications to vaccination, any possible interactions with other vaccines or medications, the range of possible adverse effects from the specific vaccine and any queries. Written product information to retain for reference is also provided.