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 a wound that contain dirt, get medical help.

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Key facts around Tetanus

Most cases of tetanus are associated with newborns who have not yet been adequately vaccinated against the pathogen and the tetanus toxin.1


  • How do people catch this 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 a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
      Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment: https://www.reisemedizincheck.at/en/find-a-travel-health-service
    • Cleaning the wound thoroughly will reduce the risk of infection3
  1. World Health Organization. Fact Sheet. Tetanus. May 2018. Online verfügbar:https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tetanus (last accessed September 2020)
  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 September 2020)
  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 September 2020)


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