Connect with us

HEALTH

Do Rusty Nails Really Give You Tetanus?

Dani Love

Published

on

When you think of tetanus, does a rusty nail come to mind? Well, that image might be a little rusty, as tetanus has nothing to do with rust itself.

Tetanus is a serious infection caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria. These bacteria are found throughout our environment, dwelling in places such as soil, dust and feces. [25 Medical Myths that Just Won’t Go Away]

Tetanus bacteria can infect the body through open wounds, especially deep, penetrating ones, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. It’s the nature of the wound itself that’s dangerous; any object with the bacteria on it, rusty or not, that penetrates the skin and builds a tunnel for the bacteria to make its way into the body, can lead to tetanus.

So why do so many people associate rusty nails with the infection?

“Somehow, someone conjured up this image of stepping on a rusty nail” to describe how a person gets tetanus, Schaffner told . The image was likely an attempt to convey the idea that the rusty nail was in a dirty environment where these bacteria can be found, he said, but it somehow took “on a life of its own.”

But “the environment doesn’t have to be visibly dirty” for someone to get tetanus, he said. For example, there have been cases where people contracted the infection after slicing their hand with a kitchen knife.

In the environment, C. tetani lie dormant in spore form, where they can survive extreme conditions for long periods of time, as long as oxygen in present, Schaffner said. But when the spores make their way deep into a person’s body, their oxygen supply is cut off.

It’s this lack of oxygen that shakes the bacteria to life. Awakened in the body, the bacteria multiply and produce a dangerous toxin that’s carried through a person’s body in the blood. This toxin, not the bacteria, is what causes tetanus.

Tetanus can be avoided for the most part by keeping up-to-date with vaccines. Children should receive a series of shots that protects the body against the bacteria and adults should receive booster shots every 10 years. In the case of such a penetration injury, the doctor will recommend another booster shot if you haven’t had one in over five years.

Writer, content contributor and member of the Human Parasites Support Network. #NYU. Survivor and victim of #LymeDisease. Co-host on the H.P.S.N. Talk show

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Medical News

#CDC

@GarciJeff95 For more information on internship, training, and volunteer opportunities for students at CDC, please visit jobs.cdc.gov/students.

Going swimming this summer? Don't pee in the pool! Pee mixed with chlorine can cause red, stinging eyes. Keep pools and people healthy by keeping pee out! bit.ly/2NIXdZ9 #HealthySummer #HealthySwimming

Baking with your kids this summer? Raw eggs and flour in uncooked batter and dough can contain harmful germs such as E. coli. Don’t eat uncooked dough or batter. go.usa.gov/xmStk #FoodSafety #DoughNotFallForIt

test Twitter Media - Baking with your kids this summer? Raw eggs and flour in uncooked batter and dough can contain harmful germs such as E. coli. Don’t eat uncooked dough or batter. https://t.co/GwnNsPCpcL #FoodSafety #DoughNotFallForIt https://t.co/mWF89Z3Crf

#LymeDisease

“People don’t understand Lyme. They don’t understand what one tick can do to a person,” Perry said. #LymeDisease click2houston.com/health/lyme-di…

My favorite mentalist and magician @ItsMaxMajor was on @TODAYshow this morning. Watch now to learn about his medical mystery and his road to a diagnosis: today.com/video/magician… #lyme #lymedisease

test Twitter Media - My favorite mentalist and magician @ItsMaxMajor was on @TODAYshow this morning.

Watch now to learn about his medical mystery and his road to a diagnosis: https://t.co/J6HIdpc6DW #lyme #lymedisease https://t.co/rjCLS2abLX

#NTD’s

#DYK: Lymphatic Filariasis is an infection caused by mosquitoes which can lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability & social stigma. #NTDs

test Twitter Media - #DYK: Lymphatic Filariasis is an infection caused by mosquitoes which can lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability & social stigma. #NTDs https://t.co/GdAZ5894bu

Trending

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. The Human Parasite Support Network.