This terrible bug infects travellers around the world by getting into open wounds. It causes stiff jaw muscles, painful muscle spasms, a fever and a rapid heartbeat. If you have a deep wound, or one that has dirt in it, get medical help.

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Key fact

In our region, cases of tetanus have become very rare.  Germany has reported approximately 10 cases annually, and in Austria, only 1-2 cases occur per year, according to a recent survey.1


  • How do people catch these disease?

    Tetanus bacteria get into the body through a skin wound, scratch or animal bite. Wounds that are deep and contain dirt are more likely to cause infection. You can also catch the disease through unhygienic practices in hospital.1

  • Which countries are affected?

    Tetanus is found across most of the world.2

  • What are the symptoms?

    Stiffness in the jaw muscles; painful muscle spasms that can affect swallowing and breathing; fever; sweating and rapid heartbeat.1

  • How serious is the disease?

    Tetanus can cause problems with breathing and the heart. It can be fatal.1

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Cleaning the wound thoroughly will reduce the risk of infection3
  1. Zentrum für Reisemedizin. Tetanus. Available online: http://www.reisemed.at/krankheiten/tetanus-wundstarrkrampf (Last accessed on May 2018)
  2. World Health Organization. Immunization Monitoring. Tetanus (neonatal) reported cases. Last update 28-Feb-2018. Available online: http://apps.who.int/immunization_monitoring/globalsummary/timeseries/tsincidencentetanus.html (Last accessed May 2018)
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Weekly Epidemiological Record. WHO Position Paper on Tetanus. February 2017. Available online: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254582/WER9206.pdf;jsessionid=C297DB6E96C590508F20380560B5E1E3?sequence=1 (Last accessed May 2018)


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