Immunization

Michael Miller's picture

By Paula Erwin-Toth MSN, RN, CWOCN, CNS

Now that summer is upon us we will soon be entering the orientation and entry of new residents, fellows and new nursing graduates in acute care. This is a terrific opportunity for you to reach out and engage the interest of these new clinicians in evidence-based wound care practice. Granted, they are overwhelmed with new information and new responsibilities, but prevention and management of wounds is knowledge they can apply to nearly all their patients and across all health care settings.

Aletha Tippett MD's picture

By Aletha Tippett MD

Tetanus is a multisystem disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. This bacterium is present in feces and soil. Tetanus has been mostly eradicated in the U.S. due to childhood immunization, however, there have been reported cases among immigrants, with higher risk behaviors such as body piercing and tattooing among young adults, and with failure to maintain adult booster immunization. Often, as adults, tetanus is not considered in overall health as evidenced by significant under-immunization with less than half of adults having current immunization. Other risk factors not well-recognized include diabetes, gangrene or chronic wounds, which increase the risk of tetanus to 50%. It is fatal in approximately 10-30% of cases. It may take anywhere from 3-21 days after exposure to the bacterium for the symptoms to become apparent. There is no test to diagnose tetanus, it is strictly a clinical diagnosis.