Tetanus is an acute, often fatal disease caused by an exotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. It is characterized by generalized rigidity and convulsive spasms of skeletal muscles. The muscle stiffness usually involves the jaw (lockjaw) and neck and then becomes generalized. Transmission is primarily by contaminated wounds, which can either be apparent or inapparent.
One case of tetanus occurred in Indiana in 2002. The case reported not being vaccinated for tetanus in the past 30 years. Only four cases of tetanus have been reported in Indiana since 1998. Almost all cases of tetanus reported nationally occur in persons who have either never been vaccinated or have not had a booster in the 10 years preceding the illness. From 1980-2000, 70 percent of nationally reported cases were among persons 40 years of age and older.
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