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Are current UK tetanus prophylaxis procedures for wound management optimal?


Tetanus is a potentially fatal disease that occurs after contamination of a wound with Clostridium tetani spores. The introduction of comprehensive infant vaccination programmes in the 1960s dramatically reduced the incidence of tetanus in the UK. To achieve comprehensive protection against tetanus, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend the administration of the five-dose childhood immunisation regimen and an additional sixth dose, after approximately 10 years, to ensure long-lasting immunity. To supplement these measures, tetanus prophylaxis with human tetanus immunoglobulin is considered essential for incompletely immunised individuals presenting with dirty wounds. However, identifying those individuals who are not fully immunised has, until recently, been problematical. The use of a new rapid, point-of-care immunoassay to assess tetanus immune status may facilitate the optimal management of patients with wounds.

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