I poked myself in the hand the other day and realized I couldn't remember when I last had a tetanus booster. I am fortunate in that I could just ask a colleague when I got to work and get an update by just stepping across the hall, but not every one is so lucky.
For those of us who garden, or play in the dirt, or work where they get dirty tetanus is a really important booster to keep up. If you had a tetanus shot as a child (most of the pre-Jenny McCarthy crowd did) all you need is a booster every ten years.
Fun Tetanus Facts:
It is an acute illness that is often fatal (and miserably uncomfortable when it's not fatal.)
It lives in dirt, manure and dust (and who of us never run into any of those?)
It can take anwhere from 8 days to several months to develop (do you really want to worry for that long?)
It can enter the body through any opening (how often have you gotten dirt on a previous scratch?)
So if you can't get an update by just stepping across the hall, keep it in ming the next time you have a physical. They are also available at your local Health Dept. and usually cost between $10 and $20. If you decide to wait, just remember that an Emergency Room visit will get you a booster, but not for 20 bucks.
This is the picture that always accompanied school lessons on tetanus. Oddly, I never forgot what it looked like.
Tetanus usually occurs when a wound becomes contaminated with Clostridium tetani bacterial spores. Infection follows when spores become activated and develop into gram-positive bacteria that multiply and produce a very powerful toxin (tetanospasmin) that affects the muscles. Tetanus spores are found throughout the environment, usually in soil, dust, and animal waste. The usual locations for the bacteria to enter the body are puncture wounds, such as those caused by rusty nails, splinters, or even insect bites. Burns or any break in the skin and IV drug access sites are also potential entryways for the bacteria. Tetanus is acquired through contact with the environment; it is not transmitted from person to person.
Tetanus results in severe, uncontrollable muscle spasms. For example, the jaw is "locked" by muscle spasms, causing the disease to sometimes be called "lockjaw." In severe cases, the muscles used to breathe can spasm, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and other organs that may possibly lead to death.
So go get your booster if you're not already up to date. Do it to spite Jenny McCarthy, if for no other reason.