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How to Avoid Tetanus

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Tetanus Tetanus Bacteria Avoiding

Whenever you hear the word ‘tetanus’, many of us tend to think only about being cut by a rusty nail or being bitten by a dog or some other animal. However, the bacteria associated with tetanus can be found in common garden soil and it can be hazardous to your health. Even a simple cut, scrape or scratch whilst gardening can expose you to the risk of being infected with tetanus bacteria. The main problem is that a large proportion of gardeners have not kept up with their tetanus booster jabs whilst an equally significant proportion is not even aware that you could contract tetanus from soil in this manner. Another misconception that people have surrounding tetanus includes the belief that young children are far more at risk. However, the risk greatly increases with age, especially once you reach 60, if you have not kept up your immunisation.

Facts About Tetanus

Tetanus can be a potentially fatal disease and in its most common form, it can cause paralysis. The symptoms are initially a feeling of stiffness in the neck and having trouble with swallowing which is why the condition is often referred to as ‘lockjaw’. Symptoms tend to manifest themselves within just over a week of exposure to the bacteria but can appear in as little as 3 days or up to 3 weeks or so later.

How To Avoid Tetanus

Although most people will recall the tetanus booster shots you’d get at school, one of the main reasons why it can be a problem for adults is that they are not very good at keeping up with having a booster jab at the recommended time. You should have a booster shot every 10 years to keep your protection level high as the immunity does wear off over time. The most common form of injection these days is usually a combination jab which covers you against tetanus and diphtheria, the latter which is bacteria which can also be found in soil and which infects your tonsils and throat and is contagious unlike tetanus which can’t be passed from person to person. If you’ve never had a tetanus shot before or you’re not sure about your immunisation status, the best thing is to go and see your GP.

Importance Of Wearing Gloves And Protective Clothing

In spite of the fact that many gardeners will tell you that “it’s all about getting your hands dirty”, you should always wear gloves, correct footwear and eye protection where relevant and other protective clothing which is appropriate to the tasks you have in mind whilst out and about being busy in the garden. Even in the summer months, you’re far safer from getting scratched if you wear light canvas long trousers when you’re out gardening as opposed to shorts. Not only does this give you increased protection against getting cut, scratched or scraped from some tool you’re using or any vegetation or plants you are working with, it also creates a barrier against any bacteria which is present from entering your bloodstream via an open wound.

Therefore, immunisation and taking the appropriate precautions in terms of protective clothing are your two greatest weapons in avoiding tetanus. However, should you find that you cut yourself in the garden, make sure that you thoroughly clean and disinfect the wound and if you do start to feel any symptoms as mentioned above, make sure you make an appointment to see your GP.

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