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Chances of getting Tetanus?

Travel Forums General Talk Chances of getting Tetanus?

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1. Posted by Beckiboo (Respected Member 134 posts) 9y

I don't know if I am just being reeeallly paranoid here but I wanted some advise about something that's been troubling me for a while.
I'm currently travelling SE Asia, been in Thailand for 2 months, Laos for a month and I'm now in Cambodia.
For the past week or so I've had a really stiff neck and jaw, it hurts when I turn my head and it also feels hard to eat. I feel totally fine otherwise, it's just bloomin annoying!
I done a bit of online research on the symptoms and tetanus kept on coming up. Apparantly it starts off with a stiff neck and jaw, although it says lockjaw which is when you cant even open your mouth, whereas I can eat ok. It says it enters the body through soil in an open wound?
I had all the relevant jabs before coming out here, although I did have to have a small operation when I was in Thailand (to cut an abscess out of my leg) which was an open would for a while.

Am I just being paranoid or should I get checked out? I have had the vaccine so I should be protected against it, and I dont feel ill otherwise. Could it just be from travelling a lot, hard pillows, long bus journeys etc. I'm also taking doxycycline as a malaria tablet - could it be a side effect from these?

I dont want to have to leave Cambodia and head to a country with better facilities unless I can help it.

Can someone put a worrying traveller's mind at rest!!

Thanks :)

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

For side effects of dox, ask Isadora; she's knowledgeable. Unless you've been bitten or scratched by an animal, or you've fallen and got an open wound from that, I'd say the chances of your complaints being indicative of Tet are low; that said, your health should come first, so if you keep worrying, seeing a doctor is the best thing to do.

3. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Hello Beckiboo

Unless, u went trecking, or something, with the open wound, I dont see how u could have lock jaw. And, u have had the vaccination afterall.

I think u may be right. The stiff neck may have been caused by sleeping in uncomfortable conditions, or stress. I occasionally get that. The first time I got it was, when I was 20, after traveling around Europe and sleeping in uncomfortable and sometimes cold conditions. If this is the case, apply heat. Sitting in the sun will be enough. Massage, the cramped muscles, and gently turn your head, while massaging. If it is just a muscle cramp, then it will be ok, in a few days. If u have some Tiger balm, also rub that into the area where the stiffnes is.

Traveling can be wearing, on a persons health, so take care of yourself. Rest, when u need to.;)

Mel

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 22, 2007, at 1:12 AM by Mel. ]

4. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1384 posts) 9y

If you have had a shot agianst Tetanus, you should be protected against the virus for the next five years. I got a shot years ago, when I made an unfortuned fall on the street, and the doctor then told me, to not get a shot the next five years. So if you have had the shot, you don't need to worry.

A stiff neck could (besides what you already decribe yourself), also come very easy from spending time in rooms with air conditioning, or sitting on a bus/train with an open window.

5. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 9y

plus the Tetanus vaccine is virtually 100% effective, so you'd be really unlucky if it did turn out to be.

I would think there is only a need to head out of Cambodia if the symptoms get worse, or you experience any of the other symptoms associated with Tetanus.

6. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

Quoting Herr Bert

If you have had a shot agianst Tetanus, you should be protected against the virus for the next five years. I got a shot years ago, when I made an unfortuned fall on the street, and the doctor then told me, to not get a shot the next five years. So if you have had the shot, you don't need to worry.

Last thing I want is to cause a panic, but a doctor once told me the exact opposite after a nasty fall off my bike; that, even though a tetanus shot should offer some protection for about five years, the risk of infection is still sufficiently high as to justify renewed vaccination in case of open wounds. I wouldn't want to claim this as the truth, but I'd sharply keep monitoring my health and general condition if I were you.

7. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 9y

Hi Becki,

I agree with everyone else - it's doubtful you have contracted tetanus. But, I also understand your concern.

From the time of infection to onset of symptoms averages about 5-7 days. I'm sure you have read that while researching your stiff neck/jaw. The additional symptoms of tetanus will be of a rapid onset. In the week you have been having this problem, you would also have started having chest muscle spasms, tightening of the limbs and other musclular problems, including seizures. You have not displayed any of those so it's a safe bet you do not have the diesease.

Your vaccination was recent so your should have full immunity. As Rene said, you will be protected for 5-10 years. I also agree that your stiffness was brought on by all the other things you mentioned - hard pillows, etc. One other cause can be the grinding of your teeth during sleep. People who have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) regularly grind their teeth at night as it's a symptom of the disorder. It's not serious and most people don't realize they have it until their jaw stiffens. Traveling, lack of sleep, yawning can all cause an irritation of the jaw joints causing pain/stiffness.

As for the Doxy being a possible culprit, the answer is no. Side effects for Doxy are of the abdominal/GI tract variety and an increased sensitivity to the sun. They do not include the skeleto-muscular system.

Put you mind at ease and, if you are not allergic, take a recommended dose of ibuprofen every 4-6 hours for a couple of days. Being an anti-inflammatory drug, it will ease the irritated muscles and relax the stiffness. Recommended dosage is 1-2 200mg tablets. If your symptoms worsen, definitely see a physician immediately.

8. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 9y

Quoting bentivogli

Quoting Herr Bert

If you have had a shot agianst Tetanus, you should be protected against the virus for the next five years. I got a shot years ago, when I made an unfortuned fall on the street, and the doctor then told me, to not get a shot the next five years. So if you have had the shot, you don't need to worry.

Last thing I want is to cause a panic, but a doctor once told me the exact opposite after a nasty fall off my bike; that, even though a tetanus shot should offer some protection for about five years, the risk of infection is still sufficiently high as to justify renewed vaccination in case of open wounds. I wouldn't want to claim this as the truth, but I'd sharply keep monitoring my health and general condition if I were you.

In the case of open wounds, if your last tetanus vaccination was over 12 months ago, physicians will administer a booster as a precaution. Some physicians will automatically administer a booster regardless of when your last vaccination was given. It really goes by a case to case situation - the type of wound (deep puncture vs road rash), the cause, and several other bits of information. No vaccination is an absolute 100% effective in 100% of the recipients. But, I don't believe Becki has contracted tetanus gven her description of her symptoms and time line. ;)

9. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1384 posts) 9y

I will start to look for a new doctor :(

10. Posted by Beckiboo (Respected Member 134 posts) 9y

Thanks for the advice everyone, I feel a lot more assured now :) I am sure it is probably just the after effects of sitting on cramped buses throughout Laos and trying to look out of the window at the amazing scenery every 2mins lol
I am going for a massage now and will try and get some more rest hopefully my neck will loosen up very soon.

Thanks again!