Caused by a bacterial toxin, tetanus is a serious illness which affects the nervous system. And even nowadays, despite vaccinations to prevent many cases, it still causes up to nearly 300,000 fatalities a year, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Furthermore, sufferers can catch the disease from an array of factors that many of us are completely unaware of.
No doubt your parents or guardians warned you about the dangers of playing outside when you were younger. Indeed, the outdoors are a battlefield of potential broken glass, rusty nails and dog poop to a concerned carer. And contact with any of these objects could potentially lead to a devastating illness: tetanus.
Tetanus has been around for thousands of years, but exactly how long is not known. That’s because it doesn’t leave any telltale evidence on skeletons to indicate its presence. However, we do know from historical evidence that the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates recognized tetanus. In fact, its name stems from his language.