Tetanus is a non-communicable disease occurring all over the world, but is more prevalent in low and middle-income countries, where the maternal and neonatal form of the disease is still frequent and devastating. This often-fatal infectious disease is caused by the spores of the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which penetrates the body through lesions or as a result of medical acts performed under insufficient aseptic precautions.
Parents with their newborn child
Parents with their newborn child

For nearly 100 years, Sanofi and our preceding companies have provided a vaccine for this disease. The WHO estimates that in 2015, approximately 34,000 newborns died from neonatal tetanus 1. In the absence of treatment, the outcome is almost always fatal, particularly in the very young or the elderly, and even after appropriate treatment, tetanus-related mortality remains high.

Infographics tetanus

Did You Know?

Tetanus bacillus is ubiquitous and present in the soil in the form of highly resistant spores

Its reservoir can thus not be eliminated, but vaccination is a very effective weapon in the prevention of the disease.

In 2016, about 86% of infants worldwide (116.5 million infants)

received three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, from manufactures around the world, helping protect them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability (3).

Symptoms and Treatment

  • Tetanus most often presents with contractions of the jaw muscle, followed by spasms of the back muscles and sudden convulsions. 
  • Treatment involves medicine called human tetanus immune globulin (TIG), wound care, antibiotics and vaccination 4.


  1. WHO. Tetanus vaccine, WHO position paper. Weekly Epidemiological Record.10 February 2017, No.6, 92, 53-76.
  2. WHO. Tetanus vaccines position paper. WER 2017, 92, 53–76. Accessed January 2018. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254582/1/WER9206.pdf
  3. WHO. Immunization Coverage Fact Sheet. Reviewed January 2018. Accessed January 2018. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs378/en/
  4. CDC. Tetanus. Diagnosis and treatment. Last updated: January 10, 2017. Accessed January 2018, Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/tetanus/about/diagnosis-treatment.html

 This page last update: 09-2019