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Etymology: Gk, idios, own, pathos, disease, tetanos, convulsive tension
1 a tetanus infection of unknown cause.
2 a tetanus infection occurring without a wound.
Tetanus that occurs without any visible lesion.
See also: tetanus
a highly fatal disease of all animal species caused by the neurotoxin of Clostridium tetani. The bacterial spores are deposited in tissue, usually by traumatic injury, retained placenta or endometrial injury and under anaerobic conditions vegetate. Clinical features of the disease are remarkably similar in all species but there are differences in susceptibility to the disease. The muscle spasms cause a stiff gait, rigid posture (sometimes called 'sawhorse stance'), extension or elevation of the tail, protrusion of the third eyelid and trismus (lockjaw). Horses show flaring of the nostrils. In dogs, spasms of facial muscles cause abnormally erect ears and retraction of the lips that resembles the 'risus sardonicus' seen in humans with tetanus. Stimulation precipitates generalized muscle contractions and tetanic spasms or convulsions. The disease can be prevented by immunization with tetanus toxoid or the use of antitoxin, but this is done routinely only in humans and horses.
see tetanus antitoxin.
a loosely defined syndrome of outbreaks of tetanus in young cattle without a wound being found; current practice is to refer to such outbreaks as being caused by the ingestion of pre-formed tetanus toxin.
tetany occurs predominantly in one limb, closest to the site of entry of the organism, but then usually spreads to the opposite limb and then the whole body. Seen in dogs and particularly cats.
see tetanus toxin.