Tetanus is a serious disease caused by the bacteria
Clostridium tetani. Toxins (poisonous substances) made by
the bacteria affect the nervous system causing musclespasms and
breathing problems. Symptoms include an inability to open the mouth
(lockjaw) and stiffness or pain in the neck, shoulder and back
muscles and muscle spasms.
Complications of tetanus infection include pneumonia
(infection of the lungs), fractures and muscle rupture. Death can
occur from respiratory failure (failure to breathe), hypertension
(high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure) or heart
failure. Around 1 in 50 people infected with tetanus will die.
Tetanus is rare in Australia, and occurs mainly in older adults
who have never been vaccinated against the disease or were
vaccinated a long time ago. It is possible to become infected with
tetanus through a tetanus-prone wound or travelling to countries
where tetanus is more common.
The content of this website is currently under review.
General vaccination recommendations listed on this site may not
fully reflect the most recent advice in the 10th Edition of the
Australian Immunisation Handbook, which was released in April 2013.
Please speak to your healthcare professional for individual