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Biology 202 - Introduction to Microbiology

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Oral Presentations Spring 2023              

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(This outline is basic and can  be much more informative; use of pictures is encouraged)




Tetanus, also called lockjaw, results from an infection with Clostridium tetani. These bacteria are strict anaerobes and are able to survive in deep puncture wounds. Once in the body, they multiply and secrete an AB-type exotoxin (Tetanus toxin) which blocks release of inhibitory neurotransmitters in the CNS. This causes spastic paralysis.



Clostridium tetani: Gram-positive strictly anaerobic endosporing rods in the Phylum Firmicutes


Spastic paralysis of facial muscles, progressing to other skeletal muscles and the diaphragm. Can lead to death through paralysis of respiratory muscles.


Most commonly through wound infection, often deep puncture wounds (e.g. "rusty nail")


C. tetani grow in the anaerobic tissues and produce Tetanus toxin (an Exotoxin) that travels to the CNS in the bloodstream. There, it blocks the release of an inhibitory neuotransmitter (GABA) which normally inhibits motor neurons.


Adminitration of an antitoxin is necessary to neutralize circulating toxins; The DPT vaccine (diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus) prevents illness; periodic boosters are necessary. Antibiotics are generally not needed or effective


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