Tetanus is a medical condition characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers, the primary symptoms are caused by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin produced by the Gram-positive, obligate anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani.
Infection generally occurs through wound contamination, and often involves a cut or deep puncture wound.
As the infection progresses, muscle spasms in the jaw develop, hence the common name, lockjaw.
This is followed by difficulty swallowing and general muscle stiffness and spasms in other parts of the body.
The clinical manifestations of tetanus are caused when tetanus toxin blocks inhibitory nerve impulses, by interfering with the release of neurotransmitters.
This leads to unopposed muscle contraction and spasm.
Seizures may occur, and the autonomic nervous system may also be affected.
Infection can be prevented by proper immunization and by post-exposure prophylaxis.