Article Text

Reminder of important clinical lesson
Pre-emptive treatment for Clostridium tetani: importance of early recognition and treatment in the community
  1. Etienne Laverse1,2,
  2. Kanchan Dhamija1,
  3. Marilyn Meyers1,
  4. Kathie Grant3
  1. 1Southend Hospital, Southend, Essex, SS0 7DB, UK
  2. 2Imperial College London, Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK
  3. 3Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Pathogens, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, UK
  1. Etienne Laverse, etienne.laverse{at}


The case of a 79-year-old woman with neurotoxin producing Clostridium tetani identified in a lower limb laceration that was promptly treated is presented; the patient developed no symptoms of tetanus. Her antibody levels were measured as 0.01 U/ml (protective levels >0.01 U/ml) and were therefore not protective. The isolate of C tetani was identified by 16S sequencing. The potential to produce tetanus toxin was determined by detection of a fragment of the C tetani neurotoxin gene. She was given a week long course of oral flucloxacillin, 500 mg four times a day and metronidazole, 400 mg three times a day, for 5 days. The patient was subsequently given prophylactic immunoglobulin (500 IU) as per guidelines. The fact that the patient did not manifest any symptoms of localised or generalised tetanus could be attributed to prompt management when she presented to her primary care site.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Patient consent: Patient/guardian consent was obtained for publication.

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