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Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis


People may develop tetanus after stepping on a nail, getting cut with a knife, or any other injury that causes a deep cut. Tetanus is a serious illness is caused by a type of bacteria found in soil, dust, manure and saliva. It is sometimes called “lockjaw” because it causes painful muscle-tightening all over the body. If the muscles of the jaw lock, it may be impossible to swallow or open the mouth—which can lead to suffocation.

A tetanus vaccine, taken once every ten years, can prevent tetanus. However, after a bad cut or burn, a booster shot may be needed.

Read more about the Tetanus vaccine in our article, “When Was Your Last Tetanus Shot?

Source: US National Library of Medicine


This bacterial infection cases a severe sore throat, fever, chills, and swollen glands. Diphtheria is usually contracted when an infected person coughs and sneezes. If not treated, it produces a poison that can cause heart failure, paralysis, or other serious complications.

A vaccination for diphtheria is available in the diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT or TDAP) vaccine. A booster shot should be given every ten years. Because most American adults have received regular vaccinations, diphtheria is very rare in the United States.

Source: US National Library of Medicine


Pertussis—also known as whooping cough—is a bacterial disease that is more common in infants and young children than adults, though anyone can get pertussis. Whooping cough gets its name from the noise made taking a breath after intense coughing. Some with whooping cough may cough hard enough to vomit or even have choking spells. Pertussis is particularly dangerous for infants.

US National Library of Medicine

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