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Tetanus is a toxin-producing bacterial disease which causes painful muscle spasms.[1] Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which enters through wounds and causes contraction of the fibers in the skeletal muscles. Tetanus is also called lockjaw, which is actually a symptom of the disease.

Tetanus is one of the diseases against which the Dtap, Tdap and Td vaccines are intended to provide protection. Unlike many other vaccines, these doesn't vaccinate against the actual bacterium, but instead the toxin, tetanospasmin, which C. tetani produces.

Tetanus can be diagnosed by early symptoms like:

  1. Muscular spasms in different parts of the body
  2. The muscles in the throat region are also affected
  3. Pain and discomfort in the abdominal muscles
  4. Headache or a sore throat
  5. Sensitivity to touch
  6. Diarrhea

Among the various parts of the body that are affected by this toxin, the muscles in the jaw are affected severely. At full onset, one of the primary symptoms of Lockjaw is the series of spasms caused by tetanospasmin, the toxin that is produced by this bacterium. These spasms affect the ‘chewing muscles’ in the jaw, which makes it difficult to move in terms of either opening or closing the mouth.[Citation Needed]
As the disease progresses, another symptom which may be seen is bleeding of the bowels.[Citation Needed]


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/about/terms/glossary.htm#t