Health officials are concerned about an increase in tetanus in our state. Recently, three cases – one fatal – were reported to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).
Because there is no definitive laboratory test to confirm tetanus, it is important for physicians who suspect a case of tetanus to call the ISDH immediately, according to Joan Duwve, M.D., chief medical officer at the ISDH.
Dr. Duwve advises physicians to carefully assess tetanus immunization history for all patients, but especially when patients present for wound care. Patients with a dirty wound who have not completed a primary series of three appropriately administered tetanus-containing vaccine should be immunized and given tetanus immune globulin to prevent infection.
Symptoms of tetanus usually develop from three to 21 days after injury. Tetanus should be suspected in patients who present with localized or generalized muscle spasm or rigidity, with a recent history of dirty wound and incomplete or uncertain tetanus vaccination history.
Other symptoms may include trismus, difficulty swallowing, neck stiffness, elevated temperature, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and episodic tachycardia.
Treatment of suspect tetanus requires tetanus immune globulin, metronidazole, and tetanus vaccination. Report the suspected case of tetanus to the ISDH immediately at (317) 233-7125.
According to the Indiana Communicable Disease Reporting Rule for Physicians, Hospitals and Laboratories, suspect cases of tetanus must be reported to the ISDH within 72 hours of clinical diagnosis.
Read more on the CDC website.