What is tetanus?

  • Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria called Clostridium tetani. When the bacteria invade the body, they produce a poison (toxin) that causes painful muscle contractions. Another name for tetanus is “lockjaw”.
  • It often causes a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard to open the mouth or swallow.
  • Tetanus is different from other vaccine-preventable diseases because it does not spread from person to person. The bacteria are usually found in soil, dust, and manure and enter the body through breaks in the skin — usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects.
  • Nearly all cases of tetanus are among people who did not get all the recommended tetanus vaccinations. CDC recommends vaccines for infants, children, teens, and adults to prevent tetanus.

Is this a reportable illness?

  • This is a reportable illness to CDPH. Please work with your school nurse to gather the needed information and report as soon as possible but within 7 days.

What do schools need to do next?

  • Sick Person
    • No exclusion required.
    • Primary care to manage treatment.
  • No action for close contacts
  • No special cleaning.