Surprising reasons why you may need a tetanus booster

Surprising reasons why you may need a tetanus booster

You may think that stepping on a rusty nail is what causes tetanus, but experts say you can get the disease in a number of other ways too.

Tetanus can come from any crack or puncture in the skin that comes in contact with the bacteria that causes the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With warmer weather coming, it’s good to keep in mind that tetanus can happen after many kinds of injuries — even after stepping on shiny, clean nails. Your doctor may recommend a tetanus booster for some wounds that may surprise you.

A tetanus booster may also be in order after “lacerations, needle sticks, skin tears, eye injuries, burns, animal or insect bites, or other wounds that need surgery that couldn’t be done within 24 hours,” says Dr. Deshon Moore, who works in the emergency department at Advocate South Suburban Hospital.

Typical symptoms of infection would include jaw cramping, trouble swallowing, muscle spasms (typically in the stomach), and general muscle stiffness and muscle spasms, typically in the stomach, he said. In advanced cases, it could lead to headaches, seizures, fevers, elevated blood pressure and fast heart rates.

However, getting the disease can be easily avoided, as the tetanus vaccine is widely available in the U.S. Medical experts agree that receiving the shot is essential in prevention.

According to the CDC, deaths from tetanus have decined more than 99% since 1947 due to the availability and effectiveness of vaccinations. They advise everyone to stay up to date with tetanus booster shots.

The vaccine is usually given as a series in early childhood with a booster at age 11 or 12. Adults should get a booster every 10 years to maintain protection against this highly painful and dangerous disease. It’s important to keep these facts in mind year round, said Dr. Moore, not just summertime when you’re walking in bare feet.

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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About the Author

Jo Linsley
Jo Linsley

Jo Linsley, a health enews contributor, is a digital content strategist at Advocate Aurora Health. With decades of experience in writing and editing, she continues to aspire to concise and inspiring writing. She also enjoys knitting and singing as creative outlets and for their meditative qualities.