Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by the tetanus bacillus which is found in the soil and manure. Therefore , when you sustain a wound contaminated by dirt you should receive a 1,500 unit dose of tetanus antitoxin injected under the skin.
The wound should, of course, be thoroughly cleansed with lots of sterile water and all traces of dirt removed, followed by effective disinfection with plenty of peroxide which is followed in turn by more rinsing and then by swabbing with tincture of iodine.
The wound should be kept wide open by an iodo form gauze packing. The tetanus bacillus cannot survive in the open air or in the presence of oxygen, therefore the edges of the wound must be kept wide apart by gauze packing.
If the infection of tetanus develops, the patient usually begins to feel sick in a day or two , but sometimes it takes 2 to 3 weeks before symptoms of tetanus toxemia develop.
The patient then becomes feverish, cannot swallow, the face and neck muscles become stiff, and he takes on a frightened appearance. The muscles of the rest of the body also become spasmodically contracted and the pains are excruciating.
The fever may rise unusually high. It is said that the longer it takes for the disease to develop and the longer it last, the more certain the recovery.
Large doses of antitoxin should be promptly given and other more complicated and symptomatic treatments instituted. The surest way to prevent tetanus is to have any wound, and especially a soiled wound, properly cleansed and disinfected at the very outset.