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Tetanus has never been a big killer in the UK. It is now very rare, with less than 10 cases a year reported. However, it is an extremely dangerous disease, which kills up to 1 in 5 people who get the disease, even with the best modern treatment.

Unlike other diseases against which we immunise, tetanus cannot be caught from someone else. Tetanus is caused by the toxin (or poison) of the spores of the Clostridium tetani bacterium. These spores are found all over the world in soil and manure. If they infect a wound, the toxin can cause painful muscle cramps, ‘lockjaw’, and, if severe, spasms of the whole body which can lead to death.

Picture courtesy CDC