When I went to the immediate care clinic last Saturday, a lot of things happened in very short order. My finger was cleaned. The doctor numbed the finger with a local anesthetic. He stitched up the finger and applied a pressure bandage. He even wrote a prescription for an antibiotic.
But, the most important thing he did was give me a tetanus booster shot. And I’m very happy he did.
Tetanus is a very insidious disease. The bacteria that causes it can be found just about anywhere, and if it gets implanted deeply into a wound, things can go badly in a hurry. Within eight days the bacteria has grown enough to start emitting a powerful neurotoxin which short circuits signals in the nervous system. Spasms and muscle rigidity are very common, giving rise to the more common name of lockjaw. Eventually, even the diaphragm can be affected, disrupting breathing.
In fact, 30% of tetanus cases prove fatal – even in a hospital setting.
The best defense against tetanus is a good offense. Every ten years, it’s a good idea to get a tetanus booster.
The Web MD site has all of the background information for your reading pleasure.