Tetanus During Ww2

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World War II: The Production and Use of the Tetanus Vaccine
Tetanus is a disease affecting the nervous system of the human body. The first inactive tetanus vaccine (also known as Tetanus Toxoid) began production in 1924, 15 years before World War II, which officially began in 1939. However, widespread use of the vaccine did not begin until World War II was in progress. (CDC, 2011). The tetanus vaccine became required to reduce cases of tetanus in war zones where exposure to C. tetani is common.
The Disease
The bacilli Clostridium tetani creates an exotoxin that causes the defining symptom of tetanus: muscle stiffness. Beginning in the jaw and neck, it gradually moves to other parts of the body. A common alternative name for tetanus is “lockjaw”
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There were 13.4 cases for every 100,000. (Long, 1954). During World War II (recorded from 1942-45), there were 2,734,819 admissions for injury, and only 12 cases of tetanus. There were only .44 cases per 100,000 injuries recorded. (Long, 1954). This can be attributed to the increased production of tetanus toxoid and immunization of soldiers. The proven effectiveness of the vaccine solidified its use in preventing the exotoxins released into the body by Clostridium tetani. (NEJM, 1947). There were cases of tetanus where the patient had gotten the vaccine administered to them, but “protection from tetanus by active immunization is based on the immunologic preparation of the individual”. (Long, 1954). Of the 12 cases of tetanus recorded, 6 of the patients who had acquired tetanus did not have any active immunization of tetanus toxoid, 2 had the basic three injections, and 4 had both the basic immunization and stimulating injections during emergency. (Long, 1954). References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). "Tetanus". Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (CDC, Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (pdf). Washington, D.C: Public Health Foundation.
World Health Organization. (2006). Tetanus vaccine: WHO position paper. Weekly epidemiological record, 20 (81), 197–208.
Starlin, Zandra. (n.a.). Tetanus. Retrieved from:
Long, A. P. (1943). Tetanus Toxoid, Its Use in the United States Army . American Journal of
Public Health and the Nation's Health, 33(1), 53–57.
Tetanus in the United States Army in World War II. (1947). New England Journal of
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