Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program

Vaccine-preventable Diseases - Tetanus (Lockjaw)

General Information:

Tetanus (lockjaw) is a disease caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria. Tetanus can enter the body through a break in the skin. The bacterium is most often found in spore form. Once the spores enter the body they produce a powerful nerve poison that spreads throughout the body and causes painful symptoms. Tetanus is found in soil and in the intestinal tracts and feces of animals and humans.

A common first symptom of tetanus is cramping of the jaw muscles (lockjaw), followed by stiffness in the neck, difficulty swallowing, abdominal cramps, spasms, sweating and fever.

Getting a vaccine is the best way to prevent tetanus. There are two tetanus vaccines available (Dtap and Tdap). Please see the vaccine information statements (VIS) below.

Resources for Maine Residents:

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