The bacteria named Clostridium tetani are the primary causes of tetanus. They are usually present in soil that is contaminated with animal feces and manure. These bacteria are found on rusted nails and also on the skin of individuals who work in agricultural fields. They do not cause infections in such environments, as these bacteria can grow only in places where there is no oxygen around them.
When spores from the bacteria gain entry into the body through cuts or wounds, they find the environment conducive to their survival and growth. In many cases, these bacteria enter the body through non-sterile surgical procedures, the injection of drugs through unclean needles, animal bites, ulcers, skin burns, and tattoos and body piercings made with non-sterile needles.
The Causes Of Tetanus – The Mechanism Of The Infection
Once the Clostridium Tetani bacteria enter the body, they move deep inside where there is no oxygen supply. At this point, they begin to multiply rapidly in this region. These bacteria then go on to produce a neurotoxin known as tetanospasmin, which attaches itself to the nerve endings and affects the entire nervous system, disrupting the functioning of various muscles.
The neurotoxin intervenes with the messaging interaction that occurs between the brain and the nerves that control the muscles. This causes severe muscle spasms and results in stiffness and rigidity of the muscles. Once the neurotoxin enters the bloodstream, it rapidly spreads to other parts of the body causing spasms in various muscle groups.
The Causes Of Tetanus And The Resulting Signs And Symptoms
Initially, the jaw muscles become stiff and eventually the spasms spread to other muscles in the body, including the chest, hands, legs, and the back. In some cases, due to the presence of constant contractions, the muscles become severely damaged.
In severe cases, the bones become susceptible to breakage and breathing also becomes difficult due to constant chest spasms. If timely treatment and care are not provided to the infected individual, the causes of tetanus can lead to the his death. It is best to avoid a tetanus infection by taking the right preventive measures, such as getting a tetanus shot and cleaning all major and minor wounds with utmost care.