Tetanus Safety

Gardening this summer?

Did you know that gardeners can be prone to tetanus infections?

Whether you’re new to gardening or have a green thumb, remember to keep your health and safety a priority.

84% of Americans participate in gardening or yard work every year; 31% of tetanus cases reported between 1998 and 2000 came from garden, yard, or farm injuries.

Tetanus lives in the soil and enters the body through breaks in the skin, especially when using sharp tools, digging in the dirt, or handling plants with sharp points. Before you start gardening this season:

  • Make sure your tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccination is up-to-date.
  • Use a good set of gardening gloves, which can help lower the risk for skin irritations and cuts. 
  • Cover your skin while working in the garden to help prevent soil entering cuts and wounds.

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus, also known as “lockjaw” is an acute disease caused by the bacteria/germ Clostridium tetani. This germ produces a harmful chemical toxin, that when allowed to enter the body affects several areas of muscle and can lead to death if not treated with vigorous medical care. The Clostridium tetani germ is commonly found in the soil, dust, and stool. Open wounds are an ideal place for the germ to grow and produce its harmful toxin.

What are the Symptoms of Tetanus?

  • Tightening of the jaw muscle (“lockjaw”)
  • Sudden, uncontrolled muscle tightening often in the stomach
  • Painful muscle tightening all over the body
  • Trouble eating and drinking
  • Headache
  • Fever and sweating
  • Changes in blood pressure and a fast heart rate

Anyone who receives a deep or dirty wound and has not had a booster shot over the last 5 years should have another booster. Visit your doctor, urgent care, or hospital should you have symptoms or suspect you have an infection.

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