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It's Just A Little Wound....

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I found uncountable references to "tetanus," but always in responses, never as the starting topic.


Out caching today, stepped to close to a post that had barbed wire around it, got a little poke in my leg. "Ouch," said I. Wasn't bleeding, didn't think anything of it.


Get home over 10 hours later, take my pants off, there's a red hole in my leg! Doesn't hurt, even if I poke it, don't think it's more than 1/8" deep.


So, I don't need a doctor, do I? Can I survive if I'm infected? I've already looked up "tetanus" on wikipedia, and obviously I'll head to the ER if my muscles feel stiff, especially my jaw!!


But, obviously I'm hoping you guys will tell me I'll live, I don't plan on seeing a doc.


Thanks, all!




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Ever get a charlie horse? Imagine that terrible cramping pain slowly spreading into every single muscle in your body. Over the course of days and days, you will eventually be clamped up into a ball in the corner of a room, unable to move, in terrible pain, begging through your clenched teeth for the doctors to just kill you. But there's not much they can do for you, because once it sets in, it's uncurable. Eventually your diaphragm will shut down and you will happily suffocate to death.


:) Is that true? I dunno for sure but that is how my biology teacher described tetanus to us in eight grade.


The shots are only good for 5 years. Doctors recommend getting them every 10, but if you walk into a doctors office with a puncture wound and a tetanus shot more than 5 years old, you'll be getting another one.


PS. Tetanus is a biological infection, it's not caused by rust, despite common misconception. You can get it from ANY puncture wound, like a large thorn.

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From medicinenet


What is tetanus?


Tetanus is an acute, often-fatal disease of the nervous system that is caused by the nerve toxins of the bacterium called Clostridium tetani. This bacteria is found throughout the world as a normal element in the soil and in animal and human intestines.


Where do tetanus bacteria grow in the body?


Contaminated wounds are the sites where tetanus bacteria multiply. Deep wounds or those with devitalized (dead) tissue are particularly prone to tetanus infection.


Puncture wounds such as those caused by nails, splinters, or insect bites are favorite locations of entry for the bacteria. The bacteria can also be introduced through burns, any break in the skin, and injection-drug sites.


The potent toxin which is produced when the tetanus bacteria multiply is the cause of the harm in this disease.


How does the tetanus toxin cause damage to the body?


The tetanus toxin affects the site of interaction between the nerve and the muscle that it stimulates. This region is called the neuromuscular junction. The tetanus toxin heightens the chemical signal from the nerve to the muscle which causes the muscles to continuously tighten up in a huge continuous ("tetanic" or "tonic") contraction or spasm.


What is the incubation period for tetanus?


The incubation period between exposure to the bacteria in a contaminated wound and development of the initial symptoms of tetanus ranges from 2 days to 2 months, but is commonly within 14 days of injury.


What is the course of the tetanus disease?


During a 1 to 7 day period, progressive muscle spasms caused by the tetanus toxin in the immediate wound area may progress to involve the entire body in a set of continuous muscle contractions. Restlessness, headache, and irritability are common.


The tetanus neurotoxin causes the muscles to tighten up into a continuous ("tetanic" or "tonic") contraction or spasm. The jaw is "locked" by muscle spasms, giving the name "lockjaw" (also called "trismus"). Muscles throughout the body are affected, including the vital muscles necessary for normal breathing. When the breathing muscles lose their power, breathing becomes difficult or impossible and death can occur without life-support measures. Even with breathing support, infections of the airways within the lungs can lead to death.


How is tetanus treated?


General measures to treat the sources of the bacterial infection with antibiotics and drainage are carried out in the hospital while the patient is monitored for any signs of compromised breathing muscles. Treatment is directed toward stopping toxin production, neutralizing its effects, and controlling muscle spasms. Sedation is often given for muscle spasm, which can lead to life-threatening breathing difficulty.


In more severe cases, breathing assistance with an artificial respirator machines may be needed.


The toxin already circulating in the body is neutralized with antitoxin drugs. The tetanus toxin causes no permanent damage to the nervous system after the patient recovers.


After recovery, patients still require active immunization because having the tetanus disease does not provide natural immunization against a repeat episode!


How is tetanus prevented?


Active immunization ("tetanus shots") plays an essential role in preventing tetanus. Preventative measures to protect the skin from being penetrated by the tetanus bacteria are also important. For instance, precautions should be taken to avoid stepping on nails by wearing shoes. If a penetrating wound should occur, it should be thoroughly cleansed with soap and water and medical attention should be sought.


What is the schedule for active immunization ("tetanus shots")?


A tetanus booster is needed every 10 years after immunization or after a puncture or other skin wound which could provide the tetanus bacteria an opportunity to enter the body.


(I know, way too much info) Link here

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How long has it been since your last tetanus shot? I forget what they say they're good for these days...7-10 years? Personally, I'm pretty sure I'm still up-to-date on mine, but I'm considering going in and getting the shot again simply because of the sheer amount of time in the woods I spend, the amount of working I do with sharp tools at my workbench, and my slight lack of first aid if I do nick myself...(the "I'll deal with that later, hope it quits bleeding soon" attitude)


There was a period there about 8-10 years ago that I got a tetanus shot other year three times in a row, once before my first Boundary Waters trip, two years later they were giving them away free at the county fair, and then two years after that I helped in a tornado cleanup and got one free from the city for doing so. Despite being superloaded there for a while, I'm probably due again.


Also, tetanus, as has been mentioned, is a biological infection, and the bacteria can--and does--live in the soil. Even dirt in a wound can cause it.


To the OP, I'd go in and get a booster, it can't hurt you--and an ounce of prevention....


(in retropsect, I probably should have gone in for one after tearing my hand up on a barbed wire fence while hunting several years ago....)

Edited by dkwolf
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Heres how you can tell if your wound is bad enough to need a tetanus shot.


Dip a toothpick into a shot of tequila and then into a pile of tablesalt. Poke the end of the toothpick into your wound and wiggle it around. Repeat three times.


If you feel a burning sensation, lick the salt, drink the tequila and get a tetanus shot.

Edited by BadAndy
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I hadn't had a booster when I had my appendix out at 16. The doctor gave me one (just because I had a major operation). A year later I poked myself with a stick, wasn't very deep, didn't bleed (at first). I went in sicker then a dog the next day (had bronchitis, not related) and the doc noticed the hole, asked me about it and gave me the booster again. I was told to get one again at 26. Saturday I turn 26, and next Tuesday I'm getting my booster. They hurt like a witch* but I'd rather have a shot then to die that way.....

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Get the shot. ESPECIALLY since it didn't bleed. The ones that don't bleed don't flush out whatever junk you got in there.


I got a little scrape on my foot when I was a kid, walking barefoot in a field. You know, where you tear a flap of skin and it closes without bleeding? Next morning, I had these red streaks running up my leg. My dad turned white (okay, well, my dad was pretty white before then, but he turned a-skeert). Blood poisoning. He couldn't get me to a hospital fast enough.


He said in the old days, they would've taken off my leg just to be sure it didn't spread. Since he's both very old and a doctor, I took his word for it. Now the ones that don't bleed are the ones that worry me, at least in terms of infection.

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That's a lot of excellent advice. I just got my booster last year and have to say they don't hurt nearly as much as they did when I was a kid (tended toward a lot of puncture wounds between woodpiles and an older brother who was fond of dares) because the shot's the same size but we're larger :wub:

The doctor said anyone who gardens, landscapes or works outside in topsoil should have a regularly scheduled booster every ten years. My HMO even covered it without any explanations needed. Now if I could just find a shot to repel ticks :ph34r:

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Hmmm...if the OP is uncertain when the last tetanus was, GO GET ONE! (This strikes me not as wussy, but smart.)

Several posts have stated that the OP should get one, just to be sure. Did I miss his post that stated that he didn't know when his last one was?


I'm lucky. At least once every several years I need to get stitched up and they give me a booster.

Edited by sbell111
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Read more Here


Don't skip reading this part.


Is there a treatment for tetanus?

There is no "cure" for tetanus once a person develops symptoms, just supportive treatment and management of complications. The best "treatment" is prevention through immunization.


Here's a thought for everybody, if you can't remember the year of your last shot, go get another one. Don't wait til you need it.


The next time your in the Dr office, even if it's your kid's tenth ear infection, just say 'Hey doc...........'

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ALL RIGHT, hope you all are happy!!


Now my arm hurts when I do this! </whiny voice>

For good measure, they threw in Diptheria and Pertussis.....


Ah, well. Going hiking in CO this summer, so that's one less thing to worry about.....


Thanks, all!




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