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Tetanus

muscles, infection and tension

TETANUS (LOCKJAW).A disease caused by infection of a wound with the bacillus of tetanus, a micro-organism present in the earth. People who work in the earth may become infected by getting splinters of wood under the nails. Infection may likewise occur from the improper application of mud - compresses and mud - baths. The symptoms of tetanus appear from five to ten days after infection, the earliest manifesta tion being a feeling of tension in the muscles of the lower jaw, of the neck, and of the throat ; this renders swallowing difficult. The feeling of tension is followed by spasms of the masseter (the masticatory muscle passing from the zygoniatic arch to the lower jaw), and of the muscles of the neck and back. Finally, the muscles of the limbs and the muscles governing respiration become affected. All the affected muscles become exceedingly tense, and hard as boards. This abnormal tension during the convulsion gives rise to great pain. Neither consciousness nor sen

sation is disturbed. The patient often perspires freely, and has a high temperature.

The treatment of lockjaw must be begun immediately after infection in order to be at all hopeful. Unless this is done, the disease is usually fatal. Treatment consists in cleaning the wound, and in giving injections of an anti tetanus serum. If this serum be applied in time, the result may be favourable. Sedatives are beneficial to counteract the muscular spasms ; and it is advisable to give the patient lukewarm baths. Nourishment must be administered through a tube or funnel. The intracranial injection of weak solutions of magnesium sulphate has proved beneficial in some cases.

TETTER.An old-fashioned name used to signify a variety of eruptive skin disorders. These are considered under their respective headings. See HERPES ; RINGWORM ; SKIN, DISEASES OF.