Tetanus is a rare disease resulting from a neurotoxin that's produced during infection with Clostridium tetani. Clostridium tetani are a common environmental bacteria which form spores that are highly resistant to extreme hot and cold temperatures. They're present in soil and manure and usually enter the body through a:
The bacteria can then grow without the need for oxygen at the infection site and produce tetanus toxin. People who inject drugs (PWID) are at increased risk of infection and clusters of infection have been previously reported in PWID.
For more information on the symptoms, treatment and transmission of tetanus visit the NHS inform website.
- For more information on tetanus immunisation, including updates, please refer to the Public Health England (PHE) Green book, chapter 30.
- Read our guidelines for the public health management of tetanus, botulism or anthrax among PWID.
- For the diagnosis, surveillance and epidemiology of tetanus view the guidance produced by Public Health England.
Immunisation against tetanus is the most effective method of prevention and it's been part of the childhood immunisation schedule since 1961. Tetanus vaccine is included in the UK childhood immunisation schedule, with routine primary vaccination recommended at two, three and four months of age, followed by a booster dose from age three years and four months, with a further booster at 13 to 18 years.
Vaccine uptake statistics
Vaccine uptake statistics for tetanus can be found on the Information Services Division (ISD) website.