• Wednesday April 8,2020

Clostridium tetani

Clostridium tetani is a bacterium of the family Clostridia and cause of the disease tetanus. Tetanus, also known as tetanus, is a wound infection that often ends in death.

What is Clostridium tetani?

The bacterium Clostridium tetani occurs in the intestine of animals (especially herbivores) and of humans. The dangerous spores of the pathogen are widespread almost everywhere, for example in garden soil or road dust.

The bacterial spores occur mainly through deep and air-tight wounds, such as by stepping into a rusty nail in the body. But even the smallest skin lesions, such as a splinter of wood, can be a portal of entry for Clostridium tetani.

The source of infection for the so-called neonatal tetanus is the umbilical wound when the newborn is abled in unsterile conditions. The neonatal tetanus usually occurs only in developing countries and shows the highest lethality of all tetanus forms. The World Health Organization estimates that around 180, 000 babies worldwide die of tetanus. In Germany, fewer than 15 people suffer from tetanus per year.

A transfer from person to person is not possible. If the pathogen Clostridium tetani has penetrated the body, it takes a few days to two weeks, in rare cases a few months, until the first symptoms appear. The shorter the incubation period, the more severe the disease process.

Meaning & function

Under anaerobic conditions, ie lack of oxygen in the wound sprout the spores of Clostridium tetani, the bacterium multiplies and forms two very dangerous for the body toxins (toxins): tetanospasmin and tetanolysin. Through the bloodstream or through the nerves, the toxin tetanospasmin enters the spinal cord. There it causes hypersensitivity, increased reflexes and convulsions. The toxin tetanolysin damages the blood and the heart muscle.

As a result of this exposure to the toxins, various symptoms occur. At the beginning, those affected show more general symptoms such as headaches, backaches, muscle aches and fatigue. In addition, feelings of tension in the wound area, sensitivity to light and noise as well as an inner restlessness can occur.

In the case of mild disease progression, locally limited muscle stiffness occurs, especially in the jaw and neck area. However, there are no seizures.

For more severe infections with Clostridium tetani, the above-mentioned muscle rigidity in combination with a high fever first appears. These are followed by muscle spasms. First, masticatory muscles, the muscles of the tongue and the mimic musculature convulse. By the cramping of the facial muscles, the patients show the so-called malicious or devilish grin.

After that it comes to cramps of the neck muscles, the extremities and the abdominal muscles. Sick people usually freeze in an extended position. The cramps are triggered by even the slightest visual or acoustic stimuli.

During these very painful seizures, the affected persons are fully conscious.


Possible complications of an infection with Clostridium tetani are pneumonia, muscle tears, bone distractions and fractures (caused by seizures), as well as possible muscle shortening, joint stiffness and spinal curvature.

Death occurs either through asphyxiation caused by the paralysis of the tongue, pharynx, laryngeal or diaphragmatic muscles or by cardiovascular failure.

Despite the vaccine, 50% of all infections with Clostridium tetani are fatal in the severe form. Without vaccination, the lethality in the severe form is 90%. Crucial is the early administration of an antitoxin. The patients are receiving intensive medical care. With the help of tranquilizers, muscle-relaxing drugs and artificial respiration, the sufferers are to be relieved. If possible, place the patients in a soundproof and darkened room to prevent seizures.

The recovery after a Clostridium tetani infection has lasted only a few days in mild cases. In severe cases, convalescence can take several weeks to months. A disease with tetanus does not leave enough antibodies, so that a new disease is possible.

Possible protection against infection with Clostridium tetani is provided by a tetanus vaccine. In infancy and early childhood is usually a primary immunization, which must then be refreshed every 10 years. In particular, people over the age of 60 years should pay attention to their vaccination, as with increasing age the antibodies against the bacterium are broken down more quickly.

Interesting Articles



The five lumbar vertebrae (vertebrae lumbar) of the human body form part of the spine. Since the lumbar spine has a particular burden to bear due to the weight and mobility of the trunk, damage or impairment to the lumbar vertebrae often results in massive pain. What are lumbar vertebrae? The lumbar spine is composed of five lumbar vertebrae n and lies in the lower part of the spine



Opposition is a movement of the thumb to face the other fingers of the hand. The movement is an important part of all gripping movements and is possible not only humans, but also animals such as primates and birds. Damage to the involved median nerve or to spinal cord lesions of segments C6 to Th1 may cause the opposition to be impossible

Ewing's sarcoma

Ewing's sarcoma

Growing pain is usually not a cause for concern in children. However, if the pain repeatedly occurs not only after activities but also at rest, a doctor should be consulted. Ewing's sarcoma can cause these symptoms. What is an Ewing's sarcoma? The symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma are nonspecific, as they can also occur in other diseases or growth disorders

Arteria temporalis superficialis

Arteria temporalis superficialis

The temporal superficial artery (superficial temporal artery) is the last upper part of the external carotid artery of the human, the so-called Arteria carotis externa. The superficial temporal artery supplies the upper half of the head with blood and extends from the ear to the temple. The superficial temporal artery is the place where the pulse is usually measured in the area of ​​the zygomatic bone. Wh

Meige syndrome

Meige syndrome

Meige syndrome is an organic neurological movement disorder that belongs to the group of focal dystonia. Already the French neurologist Henry Meige (1866-1940) dealt with this topic and described the clinical picture in detail in 1910. After him, the Meige syndrome is named. What is the Meige syndrome



Radiation therapy, radiotherapy, radiotherapy, radio-oncology or, as the case may be, also the radiation uses different radiation to treat diseases; These include, for example, X-rays or electron beams. The mechanism of action is that the influence of radiation therapy destroys the DNA (which contains genetic information) from diseased cells, such as tumor cells