By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in the Dominican Republic have reported 19 tetanus cases so far this year, which has resulted in six fatalities, according to epidemiological surveillance.

Dominican Republic/CIA

The Dominican Today reports the cases and deaths are in residents of the provinces of Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Independencia.

Tetanus is caused by a very potent toxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium, Clostridium tetani. The spores of this organism are very resistant to environmental factors and are found widely distributed in soil and in the intestines and feces of horses, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, rats, guinea pigs, and chickens. Manure-treated soil may contain large numbers of spores.

These spores are usually introduced into the body through a puncture wound contaminated with soil, street dust, animal bites or animal or human feces, through lacerations, burns or trivial unnoticed wounds or by injecting contaminated drugs. At this point the spores germinate into the bacteria which multiply and produce toxin.

Depending on the extent of the wound, the incubation of tetanus is around 10-14 days.

Some of the common symptoms of tetanus are lockjaw, followed by stiffness of the neck, difficulty in swallowing, and rigidity of abdominal muscles. Other symptoms include elevated temperature, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and episodic rapid heart rate. Spasms may occur frequently and last for several minutes. Spasms continue for 3–4 weeks. The typical features of a tetanus spasm are the position opisthotonos and the facial expressions known as “risus sardonicus”. The death rate for this disease ranges from 10-80% depending on age and quality of care.

This disease in not transmitted from person to person. Tetanus can be prevented through vaccination.

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