DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and, ultimately, threaten your life. Tetanus is commonly known as "lockjaw."
Thanks to the tetanus vaccine, cases of tetanus are rare in the United States and the developed world. The incidence of tetanus is much higher in less developed countries. Around a million cases occur worldwide each year.
There's no cure for tetanus. Treatment focuses on managing complications until the effects of the tetanus toxin resolve. Fatality is highest in individuals who haven't been immunized and in older adults with inadequate immunization.
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