What are the risks of getting tetanus?

The bacteria that cause tetanus (called Clostridium tetani) live everywhere there is dirt, soil and dust. They are also found in human and animal feces (poop). Another source of infection is contaminated needles and other dirty objects such as rusty nails, which may cause puncture wounds.

Tetanus occurs worldwide, and people of any age can get it. Infants and the elderly are most vulnerable. Older people are often unaware than their immunization may have waned over time, if they have not received regular booster shots. A routine activity such as gardening may pose a risk, if a cut or wound is exposed to soil.

Thanks to routine immunization, tetanus is very rare in Canada. Over the years, the death rate has fallen to almost zero. There have been only five deaths due to tetanus since 1980, with the last reported in 1997.

The best way to prevent tetanus is vaccination.

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