Tetanus (Lockjaw)

General Information

Tetanus (lockjaw) is a disease caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria. Tetanus can enter the body through a break in the skin. The bacterium is most often found in spore form. Once the spores enter the body they produce a powerful nerve poison that spreads throughout the body and causes painful symptoms. Tetanus is found in soil and in the intestinal tracts and feces of animals and humans.

A common first symptom of tetanus is cramping of the jaw muscles (lockjaw), followed by stiffness in the neck, difficulty swallowing, abdominal cramps, spasms, sweating and fever.

Getting a vaccine is the best way to prevent tetanus. There are two tetanus vaccines available (Dtap and Tdap). Please see the vaccine information statements (VIS) below.

Resources for Maine Residents

Report and Publications

  • Tetanus surveillance reports  2017 | 2018 (PDF)

External Links