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What’s Going Around – Tetanus


What’s Going Around – Tetanus

The winter is receding and gardeners are out in force. Working in soil increases the risk of contaminated cuts and wounds. Clostridium tentani is a bacteria that thrives in damp soil. It hides in the pits of rusty nails and wire, waiting to be carried through the skin by cut or puncture. The CDC reports that a third of all tetanus cases originate from gardening injuries.

Signs and Symptoms: The toxin of this bacteria causes severe, painful muscle spasms. It often affects the jaw muscles (“Lockjaw’), but contractions can spread to other parts of the body with devastating results. One in ten cases is fatal.

What to do: Tetanus antitoxin, if given quickly, is effective. Antibiotics are also helpful, but must be given early as well. Prevention is a much better strategy. Use gloves when working with thorny plants or in soil. Never work in the garden barefoot or in sandals. A tetanus booster vaccination should be updated every ten years.

Thought for the day: Be smart, if gardening is your thing. Get your tetanus booster for spring.

What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at

Dr. Kyle Scarborough Dr. Kyle Scarborough is a family medicine physician at Family Life Medical in Conroe, Texas. Dr. Scarborough offers care for the entire family, including wellness exams, diabetes care, hypertension treatment, geriatric care, well woman exam, school physicals, and pre-ops and hospital follow ups.

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