Tetanus is a serious but rare condition caused by bacteria getting into a wound. It can be fatal even with medical treatment. In developed countries, such as the UK, Tetanus is rare due to vaccination programmes, but it is found worldwide.

The symptoms usually begin around 4 to 21 days after infection. On average, they begin after approximately 10 days.


The main symptoms include:

  • stiffness in your jaw muscles (“lockjaw”), which can make it difficult to open your mouth
  • painful muscle spasms, which can make it difficult to breathe and swallow
  • a high temperature
  • sweating
  • a rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling sick
1. How do you catch it?

Tetanus bacteria can survive for a long time outside the body and are commonly found in soil and the manure of animals such as horses and cows, and occasionally in injected drugs and enter the body through a wound or a break in the skin.

Tetanus cannot be spread from person to person.

2. Prevention?

Vaccination and good wound care are extremely important to help prevent Tetanus infection. Clean all wounds with soap and water. A booster vaccine can be given to travellers who have had the primary UK childhood schedule.

3. Vaccination options

A course of the vaccine combining diphtheria with Tetanus and polio is offered routinely in the UK from the age of 8 weeks. Depending on where you are travelling AND when you last had the combined vaccine, you may require a booster dose before you travel.

Number of doses? 1 dose.
When to do the course? Ideally, two weeks before your trip, although even a day before your trip is acceptable as form of protection.
Booster doses? The vaccine provides protection for 10 years. Booster dose is recommended every 10 years.
Age restrictions? Vaccine is available for anyone 6 years and above.

4. At Risk Destinations

Tetanus occurs throughout the world and people of all ages are at risk.

For a free risk assessment and expert advice, contact us today and speak with one of our dedicated healthcare professionals.