Tetanus is an acute infectious disease from the group of anaerobic infections. Both animals and humans are subject to it. It is characterized by damage to the nervous system in the form of generalized convulsions of skeletal muscles, the possible development of asphyxia, and the rapidity of the clinical course. Mortality without medical care reaches 90%.
This disease has been known since ancient times, the first description of the clinical manifestations of tetanus was given by Hippocrates. He observed symptoms in his own son, who died from this terrible disease. Avicenna, Celsus, Galen and many other famous doctors of the past were engaged in the study of tetanus. But it was only in the 19th century that the causative agent of tetanus was found and anti-tetanus serum was developed. This disease is most widespread in countries with a tropical climate, although isolated cases are found in all corners of the world. Tetanus is more common in developing countries, where the necessary preventive measures and emergency medical care are lacking.
How does the disease develop
The causative agent of tetanus is tetanus exotoxin, a bacterial poison. Exotoxin is a waste product of the tetanus bacillus. By itself, it is considered a conditionally pathogenic microorganism and lives in small quantities in the intestines of each person, without causing any harm. The fact is that these bacteria cannot pass through the intestinal wall. This pathogen becomes dangerous only when it comes into contact with damaged tissues in places where conditions of anaerobiosis are created - the absence of oxygen. The ideal conditions for this are all kinds of wounds, puncture wounds, deep bites. Therefore, the peak in the development of tetanus is observed in conditions of wars, natural disasters.
From the moment the pathogen enters favorable conditions, it begins to actively multiply and produce exotoxin harmful to all living things. With the blood, exotoxin is carried throughout the body and affects the spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system. This leads to the appearance of tonic seizures and the onset of the destruction of red blood cells. The incubation period is on average 1 - 2 weeks, at which time the victim complains of headache, sweating, and feels muscle twitching in the wound. Later, despite the fact that the wound heals, the condition worsens - there is tension in the chewing muscles, and problems with opening the mouth begin.
During the height of the disease, everything depends on the speed of seeking medical help. As a result of muscle spasm, it becomes difficult to swallow. Rigidity of the muscles of the occiput develops, which then rapidly descends to the muscles of the back, neck, upper limbs and below. Seizures are painful and may occur spontaneously or from stimuli such as bright light, touch, or sound. When seizures occur, increased sweating is observed, the functions of swallowing, breathing, urination are impaired, and a high temperature rises. In the body, metabolic disorders begin, which affects cardiac activity.
Usually, the diagnosis is made on the basis of the clinical picture. The patient requires immediate hospitalization. The wound is opened, sanitized, and the toxin is neutralized using tetanus serum. Anticonvulsant therapy is prescribed. Without the introduction of serum, patients in most cases die from cardiac paralysis, pneumonia, sepsis, embolism and other complications. With timely help, the symptoms of tetanus gradually pass.
Prevention of tetanus consists mainly in the introduction of tetanus vaccine to all children, as well as emergency vaccination for injuries, trauma, frostbite, burns, surgical interventions on internal organs.Women who have had childbirth or abortion outside of hospitals also need such vaccinations.