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"Should I be concerned about tetanus?"

ZocdocAnswersShould I be concerned about tetanus?


yesterday I was walking to my friend's car after we got lunch and I was wearing pretty loose flats (shoes). My shoe got caught over what seemed to be where a road sign was, but they sawed it off so it was just a sharp pipe like thing sticking out of the ground, which was quite rusty (and hidden by tall grass might I add). It took off my shoe and then scraped and I might even say punctured my foot. I cleaned it when I got back to my dorm with neosporin and put a bandaid over it. The last time I can ever remember getting shots is when I was 11 (I'm 18 now) and even then I don't know if it was a tetanus one. Should I be concered?


The type of injury that you had is the very type that is high risk for obtaining an infection with the bacteria that causes tetanus, so I recommend that you speak with your doctor. Tetanus is caused by the bacterium clostridium tetani. This bacteria loves to live in the dirt and on rusty metal such as what you stepped on. While certainly cleaning the wound and using Neosporin will help prevent some infections, it will not likely prevent infection with tetanus. This is the reason why being vaccinated is so important. A tetanus shot is supposed to last about 10 years, though during the last five years there is usually some waining of immunity. This is why we always recommend that somebody get a booster tetanus shot if they have such an injury after five years have gone by since their last shot. Since it has been seven years since your last shot, most doctors would recommend that you obtain a booster tetanus shot within a few days after your injury. I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to further discuss this issue. I think that most likely your doctor will end up wanting to treat you with an additional tetanus shot at this time to help prevent infection. Good luck.

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