When I was reading about possible infections that could affect children and I came across tetanus, I was confused a little bit because I have only known about people speaking about the need to go for a tetanus injection when there is an injury that seems like it would cause an infection, but getting to read about it as an infection affecting children that they even have to get vaccinated for was just rather new to me if it has new to you as it was to me before I first read about it, then please join me as we take time out to explore and understand this topic together.
Tetanus is an acute infectious disease, this disease is caused by the spores of the bacterium Clostridium tetani, these spores exist everywhere around the environment, particularly existing in the soil, the ash and in the intestinal tracts or feces of both humans and animals, asides from that, they can also exist on skin surfaces and rusty items like needles, nails, barbed wire, and others, the bacteria can get highly resistant to heat and lots of other antiseptics, the spores also have the ability to survive for years and another fact is, apparently anyone can get tetanus, but the disease is usually more serious amongst babies and pregnant women who have not been previously immunized with a tetanus vaccine.
When a pregnant woman has tetanus during her period of pregnancy circle or within 6 weeks to the end of the pregnancy journey, it is called Maternal tetanus, experiencing tetanus for a child within his or her first 28 days of existence is neonatal tetanus. While it is uncommon to my ignorant ears, it is a public health problem in different parts of the world especially in low-income countries, those countries where the coverage of immunization is actually low, and those places where the practice of unclean birth is prevalent.
The prevalence of these diseases in this areas are not far-fetched as Neonatal tetanus happens when nonterile instruments are used for the cutting of the umbilical cord, or cases when contaminated materials are used for the covering of umbilical stump, or even when the process of delivery is carried out by people with unclean hands or operating on contaminated surfaces.
According to a research conducted by some experts in 2015, it was recorded that around 34,000 of newborn babies actually die as a result of neonatal tetanus, and this was even recorded as a reduced number from the number recorded at 1988 which was about 787,000 back then, and the babies in this number actually died of tetanus within their first month of life (how sad). There is now an increased risk of the development of tetanus in asolescent and adult males, those ones that undergo circumcision in most cases without an opportunity to get a booster.1
Tetanus is a serious central nervous system disease caused by the toxin of the tetanus bacterium, tetanus is not a contagious form of illness, it gets into the body through an open wound, this infection occurs more often when they are in warmer climates or during the more warmer months.
The symptoms of Tetanus Infection.
The symptoms of tetanus could vary amongst individuals, but the most usual ones are;
Contraction of the facial muscles.
Inability to swallow appropriately.
Stiffness in the back and abdominal muscles.
Experienced pain with the muscle spasms especially close to the injury region.
Sudden fast heart rate. 2
In neonatal tetanus, the symptoms of muscle spams ar usually followed by the inability of the child to breastfeed appropriately or even cry excessively. 1
The treatment of tetanus especially when a child is affected would be determined by the child's doctor based on these considerations;
The extent of the disease.
The tolerance ability of the child for som types of medications, procedures and therapies.
The expectation on how long the disease is supposed to last.'
The age of the child, it's overall health and the medical history.
Certainly, parents preference is something to also be considered.
If there is a suspicion of tetanus suspected to be from a wound without any shown symptom yet, the wound area would be cleaned appropriately, after this, an injection known as tetanus immuglobin could b administered. In a case where the adult has previously been vaccinated against the disease or not sure, antibiotics could be prescribed. When the symptoms of tetanus are discovered, there would be an emergency to the Intensive care unit (ICU).3
For me, I always say it is better to prevent a disease than looking for the cure/treatment, and the major way to do this is;
- Through vaccination
- Getting a shot immediately after an injury either symptoms persists or not.
I hope by now, you have started to see that tetanus on a more dangerous level that you used to know, get yourself and the kids vaccinated and when you have an injury, it is a smart choice, get a shot.