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How do you get tetanus?

Page last updated 28 April 2020

Tetanus is uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the tetanus vaccine. Anyone who hasn't been immunised against tetanus is at risk.

    The bacteria are found mostly in the environment (soil, dust and manure) and get in to the body through breaks in the skin. The most common way spores get in to the body is through injuries from contaminated objects. Certain types of skin breaks are more likely to get infected with tetanus bacteria, such as:

    • wounds contaminated with dirt, faeces or saliva
    • wounds caused by an object puncturing the skin e.g. nails, needles
    • burns
    • crush injuries
    • injuries with dead tissue.

    Sources & Citations

    2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tetanus – causes and transmission. Available at: (Accessed 19 March 2020).

    3. Victoria State Government – Better Health Channel. Tetanus. Available at: (Accessed 19 March 2020).

    SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0137(1)a - Date of preparation April 2020