Determination of specific antibodies against tetanus toxin is used to evaluate tetanus immunity as well as to measure post-vaccination immune response in individuals suspected of immune system disorders.
Clostridium tetanus (Clostridium tetani) produces a potent biological toxin, tetanospasm, which is the causative agent of tetanus. Tetanus spp. are large, Gram positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic bacteria, about 1 µm thick and 3-8 µm long. The appearance of Clostridia in Gram staining is similar to tennis rackets or drum keys. Clostridium tetani can be found in the form of spores in the soil or as a flora in the gastrointestinal tract of animals.
Tetanus spores usually enter the host through a skin wound and then reproduce and form spores. In anaerobic conditions, the pathogenic microorganisms produce two types of toxins, tetanolysin and tetanospasm, which reach the anterior horns of the spinal cord or brainstem, with inverse transport along the nerve axes. Tetanolysin does not serve any known function in Clostridium tetani and it is not known exactly why the bacteria produce it. Tetanus spasmin is a neurotoxin and causes the clinical manifestation of tetanus by blocking inhibitory nerve impulses, interfering with the release of neurotransmitters, including glycine and γ-aminobutyric acid.
The clinical picture of tetanus is characterized by increased muscle tone and convulsions caused by visual or acoustic stimuli. Cramps often start in the facial muscular system and then spread to the neck and back muscles. The patient remains clear. Finally, paralysis of the diaphragm and the tongue causes the patient to die. If the patient is immunized, the tetanus is confined to the immediate environment of the injured tissues and the mortality rate is very low.
Tetanus is rarely seen in developed countries due to widespread vaccination practice. Its incidence is much higher in developing or underdeveloped societies. Worldwide, about 300,000 people are infected with tetanus every year, with a mortality rate of about 50%.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.