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
- Tetanus fact sheet (Word* | also in PDF)
- Maine Immunization Program
- Tetanus Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) Dtap and Tdap
- For questions or to report a disease call 1-800-821-5821 (24/7)