Tetanus Immune Globulin (Intramuscular)

Tetanus immune globulin is used to prevent tetanus infection, also commonly known as lockjaw.

Overview

Tetanus, or 'lockjaw' is a potentially very serious condition for which there is no known cure. The tetanus bacteria can cause muscle spasms and seizures. So violent are the spasms that some patients have actually suffered spinal fractures as a result. The first signs of tetanus are an inability to open the jaw, hence the common name given to the condition.

Tetanus is fatal in 30 to 40% of all recorded cases, the usual cause of death being recorded as 'suffocation'. The condition more usually affects people over 50 years of age. It should be noted that if you have had tetanus infections in the past, you are not necessarily immune to future infections.

Tetanus is a bacterium that is commonly found in dust, manure, and soil. The bacteria can enter the body through a tiny scratch, but infection is more likely through deep puncture wounds or cuts. Once inside the body, the bacteria enters the blood stream. The infection then travels quickly to the nerves or to the central nervous system, where they release toxins, which damage the nerves and cause the disease's signature spasms. Tetanus infection cannot be spread directly from person to person, nor can it be contracted through interaction with affected animals.

Tetanus immune globulin works by providing your body with the antibodies it needs to provide protection against the tetanus bacterium. This passive protection, as it is called, gives your body protection until you can make your own antibodies to fend off tetanus.

Tetanus immune globulin is sold in the US under the brand names, Baytet and HyperTET SD. This prescription-only medication is available as a solution for intramuscular injection, and it should only be administered by or under the close supervision of a doctor or other medical professional.

You should ask your doctor for a tetanus booster shot every 10 years. This is especially important if you work in an occupation where you come into frequent, regular contact with soil or manure. You should also be routinely vaccinated against tetanus if you own pet livestock, enjoy gardening, or take part in any activities during which you might sustain minor injuries where soil particles could enter your body via deep punctures or cuts.

Conditions treated

  • Tetanus (lockjaw)

Type of medicine

  • vaccine
  • IM solution

Side-effects

Although using tetanus immune globulin will help to prevent you from contracting tetanus, it is possible that you may experience a few side-effects after receiving it. Before receiving your tetanus shot, be sure to inform your doctor if you have ever suffered from allergic reactions to any other form of medication, or if you have any known allergies to any foods, preservatives, animal derivatives, or dyes.

The most commonly known side-effect of tetanus immune globulin injection is a reddening, itching, or slight bruising around the injection site. You may also experience some mild aching of the muscle into which your received the shot. Some people complain of general aches and pains, and flu-like symptoms for a few days after receiving their tetanus shot.

These effects should resolve themselves within a few days of you receiving your shot. However, if irritation persists or if you develop any other unexpected health problems, you should immediately contact your doctor for advice.

Dosage

Tetanus immune globulin is only available on prescription from your doctor. The medication comes in solution form for intramuscular injection. It should be noted that the vaccine does not contain live bacteria.

In order to prevent tetanus infection, both adults and children should receive 250 units of the solution injected into a muscle. The dosage is the same for those receiving booster shots.

The dose of tetanus immune globulin that is prescribed and administered to you by your doctor will vary between patients. The dosage outlined above only reflects the average recommended dose for this medication.

You should make arrangements to receive a tetanus shot if you did not receive a primary series of shots when you were a child. You should also have a tetanus shot if you have not received a tetanus booster in the last 10 years.

Major drug interactions

Some forms of medication should not be used concurrently. In other cases, certain forms of medication can be used safely together, even if an interaction is known to occur. Under these circumstances, your doctor may decide to change the dose of one or more of your prescribed drug therapies or may advise you to take other precautions.

If you are planning on receiving a tetanus immune globulin shot, it is extremely important that you tell your doctor if you are already taking any other medication.

You should also tell your doctor if you have ever experienced any allergic reactions to any form of prescription or non-prescription medication, including herbal remedies, or vitamin supplements. You should also mention any allergies that you have to foods, preservatives, dyes, or animal derivatives.

Warnings

Although tetanus immune globulin is a very safe vaccine with minimal side-effects, you should mention to your doctor any existing health conditions that you have. When deciding whether to have a tetanus shot or not, you should weigh up the risks and benefits of taking it. Your doctor will discuss the pros and cons of using tetanus immune globulin with you in greater detail.

Before receiving a tetanus shot, you should talk to your doctor if you have any history of Guillain-Barre syndrome, epilepsy, or inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

It is not thought that tetanus immune globulin can adversely affect unborn babies. However, if you are pregnant or if you are planning on becoming pregnant immediately before or after receiving this drug, you should discuss the pros and cons with your doctor. Research has shown that this drug does not readily pass into breast milk. However, in the event that you are breastfeeding, you should mention it to your doctor, before you have your tetanus shot.

In very rare cases, this medication can cause anaphylaxis in patients with a known sensitivity to certain carrying products. Anaphylaxis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that requires prompt, emergency medical attention. If you develop a rash, have breathing difficulties, feel dizzy, develop swelling around your face, tongue, throat, face, or hands, within a few minutes of receiving your tetanus shot, you should call 911 straight away.

Storage

If you live or work in a remote location without immediate access to emergency medical aid and there is a real risk that you could contract tetanus, it may be advisable to keep a dose of tetanus immune globulin at your home.

Always keep tetanus immune globulin solution at room temperature. Do not place the medication in the fridge or freezer. Do not expose this drug to direct sunlight or to sources of extreme heat.

Keep tetanus immune globulin out of reach of children and pets. In the event that a pet consumes your medication, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do not keep any leftover tetanus immune globulin or use a supply that has become out-of-date.

Do not flush unwanted medicine down the toilet or the drain. Do not throw any unused tetanus immune globulin solution out with your garbage, where it could present a danger to small children and pets. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on the safe disposal of unwanted or unused medication.

Summary

Tetanus immune globulin is used in the prevention of tetanus infection, also commonly known as 'lockjaw'. Tetanus infection is a very serious condition that causes muscle spasms and seizures in sufferers. In some cases, the spasms have been so violent that some patients have actually suffered spinal fractures as a result. Tetanus is fatal in 30 to 40 per cent of all recorded cases. Although it is not known why, it is though that the condition more usually affects men and women who are over 50 years of age. Unfortunately, a previous tetanus infection does not guarantee your immunity in the future. To be on the safe side, you should discuss having a tetanus immune globulin shot to ensure that you are fully protected against the tetanus bacterium.

Aside from a few minor and short-lived local side-effects that can affect the area immediately around the injection site, tetanus immune globulin does not cause any wider known side-effects. The drug is widely thought to be safe to use with all other prescription medications, but you should check with your doctor if you routinely use over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, or vitamin supplements.

Tetanus immune globulin works by providing your body with the antibodies it needs to give you total protection against the tetanus bacterium. This passive protection, as it is called, effectively sets up a barrier against invasion by tetanus bacteria, until you can make your own antibodies to fend off the disease.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 27, 2018
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