Tetanus infection from a small wound on the top of the head

Ha GiangThe 27-year-old man was hit in the head by a stone, the one-centimeter-long wound was dry, did not ooze, did not bleed much, so he did not think it could cause danger.

Not long after, the patient had a continuous hot fever, stiff jaw, convulsions, coma, and was taken to Dong Van District General Hospital for emergency. Doctors at the end of April said that the patient had full-blown tetanus, was on mechanical ventilation, treated with SAT serum, fluids, sedation, and antibiotics. Determining that this is a very serious case, doctors often exchange colleagues at the Provincial General Hospital to have a suitable treatment regimen.

After nearly a month of active treatment, the patient was awake, well-communicated, self-sufficient, able to eat and drink, and had normal vital signs. He was advised on exercise regimen, nutrition, and personal hygiene.

Doctor treating patient. Image: Hospital provides

According to doctors, tetanus is an acute infection with a mortality rate of 25-90%. The disease usually occurs when the body is injured such as skin pricks, lacerations, skin abrasions, burns, otitis media, surgery, miscarriage, childbirth… Incubation period is 4-21 days. Pathogenic bacteria grow in the wound under anaerobic conditions, then release toxins into the blood and attack the nerve – muscle. At this time, the patient has muscle spasms and from there appear convulsions causing apnea, respiratory failure, autonomic disturbances, cardiac arrest.

When infected with tetanus, the body goes through 4 stages: incubation, onset, full-blown disease and remission. Tetanus is a dangerous disease due to its long treatment time (possibly several weeks to several months) and very expensive treatment costs.

When working with sharp objects, it is necessary to be fully equipped with labor safety equipment such as safety shoes, cut-resistant gloves, protective gear… If accidentally injured, it should be handled properly, wash the wound wound with clean water, disinfect with alcohol at the wound and around; Use a sterile bandage to bandage the wound, then immediately go to the nearest medical facility for examination and tetanus vaccination.

Vietnam has eliminated neonatal tetanus since 1992 (thanks to vaccination), but there are still many adults born before 1992 who have not been vaccinated against tetanus. Therefore, people need to actively vaccinate against tetanus when there is a bruised, deep, dirty wound, especially for a group of people who have not been fully vaccinated, or 10 years after the last vaccination. Then, booster vaccination against tetanus according to the recommendations of the vaccination unit to have full immunity against the disease.


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