Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a painful and serious disease. Tetanus bacteria enter the body through wounds, more commonly through burns, deep or infected wounds.


Bacteria grow in dead tissue and release a toxin which causes muscles in the body to go into spasms.


Tetanus disease can be readily prevented by vaccination. Initial vaccination is given in childhood with booster injections routinely given at secondary school age, and then at 50 years. In the interim, when there is a risk that a wound may be contaminated by tetanus bacteria (dirty wounds or injuries) and there is doubt about tetanus immune status, a booster vaccination is advised. For this reason, it is best for travellers to check and update their tetanus vaccination status appropriately before travel.