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

Anyone can get tetanus, but the disease is particularly common and serious in newborn babies and pregnant women who have not been sufficiently immunized with tetanus-toxoid-containing vaccines.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
    • Vaccination and good wound care are important to help prevent tetanus infection3
  1. World Health Organization. Fact Sheet. Tetanus. May 2018. Available online: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tetanus (last accessed December 2022)
  2. Hannah Behrens, Sophie Ochmann, Bernadeta Dadonaite, Max Roser (2019) – „Tetanus“. Available online: https://ourworldindata.org/tetanus (last accessed October 2022)
  3. Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Tetanus. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/tetanus/about/prevention.html (last accessed December 2022)

20 Feb 2023
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