ISSN 2398-2950      

Tetanus

ffelis

Introduction

  • Cause: toxin produced by Clostridium tetani  Clostridium tetani.
  • Signs: generalized or localized muscle spasms.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs and history.
  • Treatment: supportive.
  • Prognosis: good provided animal is supported through critical period.
Print off the owner factsheet Tetanus in cats to give to your client.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Toxin produced by Clostridium tetani.
  • Bacterium found in soil and intestinal tract (thrive in anaerobic environments). 
  • Usually enters the body through deep puncture wounds. 

Pathophysiology

  • Bacteria enters body → toxin production → enters motor nerves → extensor rigidity of all muscles. 
  • Cats are relatively resistant to effects of toxin (as compared to man and horses). 
  • Clostridium tetani enters body usually via penetrating wound. 
  • The spores of Clostridium tetani are unable to grow in healthy tissue or even in wounds if the tissue remains at the normal oxidation-reduction potential of the circulating blood. 
  • The spores can germinate if appropriate needs of low redox potential, low oxygen tension, pH, and bacterial nutrients are met. Typically a small amount of soil or foreign object causing tissue necrosis provide suitable conditions for multiplication to occur. 
  • As bacterial cells undergo autolysis, the potent neurotoxins are released.  
  • Two different toxins are produced: 
    • Tetanospasmin: enters motor nerves and travels in a retrograde fashion to the inhibitory spinal interneuron. 
    • Blocks release of acetylcholine (by destroying synaptobrevin, a component of the synaptic vesicle docking apparatus) reducing inhibition of motor nerve function → muscle extensor rigidity (spastic paralysis). 
    • Tetanolysin: promotes anaerobic conditions for multiplication of Clostridium tetani by causing local tissue necrosis. 

Timecourse

  • Signs occur from one to several weeks but usually occur within 10-14 days of bacterial infection of wound. 
  • Recovery usually over weeks to months. 

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Danciu C G, Milgram J, Ober C A, Tăbăran F A, Demény H, Chai O (2022) Coxofemoral luxation as a complication of localised tetanus in a cat. J Feline Med Surg Open Rep 8(1), 20551169221090889 PubMed DOI: 10.1177/20551169221090889.
  • Farrar B, Liebel F X (2019) Generalised tetanus in a cat. Vet Rec Case Reports 7(3) doi.org/10.1136/vetreccr-2019-000907.
  • Lowrie M, Garosi G (2016) Classification of involuntary movements in dogs: Tremors and twitches. Vet J 214, 109-116 PubMed.
  • Polizopoulou Z S, Kazakos G, Georgiadis G et al (2002) Presumed localized tetanus in two cats. J Feline Med Surg (4), 209-212 PubMed.
  • Lee E A & Jones B R (1996) Localised tetanus in two cats after ovariohysterectomy. N Z Vet J 44 (3), 105-8 PubMed.
  • Baker J L, Waters D J & DeLahunta A (1988) Tetanus in two cats. JAAHA 24 (2), 159-164 VetMedResource.
  • Ahmadsyah I, Salim A (1985) Treatment of tetanus: an open study to compare the efficacy of procaine penicillin and metronidazole. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 291(6496), 648-650 PubMed DOI: 10.1136/bmj.291.6496.648 
  • Godwin R L (1985) Tetanus in a cat. Vet Rec 116 (21), 574 PubMed.
  • Killingsworth C, Chiapella A, Veralli P et al (1977) Feline tetanus. JAAHA 13 (2), 209-215 VetMedResource.

Other sources of information

  • Greene C E (1998) Tetanus. In: Infectious diseases of the Dog and Cat. 2nd Edn. Ed. Greene CE. WB Saunders Co. pp 267-273.

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