Does rust cause tetanus?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While the rusty nail does not directly cause tetanus, there is, nevertheless, some connection.  Because the rusty nail has been outside for some time, it is in a place where anerobic bacteria can accumulate; added to this, the rough surface of rust provides a prime habitat for C tetani endospore to reside.  Then, of course, the nail can puncture the skin and deliver the endospore to the wound. This occurrence explains why doctors often ask their patients if the nail they have stepped on is rusty. And, because there are no blood tests that can be used for tetanus, doctors usually recommend that people be vaccinated regularly against tetanus.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Tetanus, which used to be called lockjaw because of its symptoms, is not caused by rust.  This disease is caused by a bacteria.

Some people might think tetanus is caused by rust because one of the ways people have often gotten the disease is by stepping on a rusty piece of metal and being stabbed.  When I was young, some people referred to tetanus as "rusty nail disease."

However, what rally causes tetanus is a particular bacteria that is usually found in the soil or sometimes in the feces of animals.

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giorgiana1976 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Rust is a general term for red oxides,ocurred in reaction of iron with oxygen, which is happening in water presence or moisturized air. 

Tetanus is an acute infectious disease, caused by anaerobic bacillus Clostridium tetani, and not by the rust. Is characterized by increased muscle tone and spasms caused by  a toxin released by Clostridium tetani. Tetanus can occur at any age, existing in several clinical forms: generalized, localized and neonatal.

The disease is especially serious in newborns (neonatal tetanus).

Microbe is present in the environment, especially soil contaminated with animal manure. Under certain environmental conditions, spores can survive for several years and are resistant to various disinfectants and to 20 minutes boiling . Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person. The disease occurs due to infection of skin wounds (even in case of injuries, occurs when the tissue is low oxygenated) caused by a dirty object (nails, needles, scissors, splinter, earth, etc..) or animals bites .The infant can be infected at birth when the umbilical cord is cut with a non-sterile instrument.

Infection usually occurs sporadically and affect non-immune or partially immunized persons, being more frequent in rural areas, where they cultivate the soil and warm season.

versatilekamini's profile pic

versatilekamini | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Tetanus is often caused by an obligate anaerobic bacterium clostridium tetani. Infection generally occurs through wound contamination and often involves a cut or deep puncture wound. Tetanus is also called as lockjaw. It affects skeletal muscle, a type of striated muscle used in voluntary movement.  

Yes it is also associated with rust, especially by rusty nails. Objects that accumulate rust are often found outdoors, or in places that harbor anaerobic bacteria, but the rust itself does not cause tetanus nor does it contain more C. tetani bacteria. The rough surface of rusty metal merely provides a prime habitat for a C. tetani endospore to reside.  Because C. tetani is an anaerobic bacterium, it and its endospores survive well in an environment that lacks oxygen.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Rust by itself does not cause tetanus. However the chances of a rusty object being infected with germs or toxins are, in general, much higher than a object that is not rusty because it is regularly cleaned and cared for.Also rusting of objects frequently makes their smooth surface rough making it easier for harmful toxins to stick to these rusted area and resist cleaning.

In this way rusted objects are more likely to carry not just tetanus infections, but many others, which ale likely to thrive in dirt and filth with which rusty objects generally come in contact. However, a person hurt by a rusty object is usually given anti-tetanus injection only because of the seriousness of the disease and the much greater difficulty in treatment once tetanus is allowed to develop.

voilet's profile pic

voilet | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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 Many people associate tetanus with rusty nails and other dirty objects, but any wound can be a source.

Less common ways of getting tetanus are animal scratches and bites, surgical wounds, dental work, and therapeutic abortion.

 

Infection can be prevented by proper immunization and by post-exposure prophylaxis

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