Neuropoisons pp 225-262 | Cite as

Biochemical and Physiological Aspects of Tetanus Intoxication

  • Sumner I. Zacks
  • Michael F. Sheff


Because of man’s susceptibility to traumatic injury, plus the widespread dissemination of tetanus spores, the syndrome of wounding followed by a delayed illness characterized by muscle spasms and agonizing death was well known to the ancients. Hippocrates described a triad of wounding, lockjaw, and death. The syndrome is characterized by spreading stiffness of striated muscle, usually beginning in the area immediately surrounding the wound, ultimately leading to generalized spastic rigidity and death. Death seems primarily due to interference with respiratory mechanisms. The course of the clinical syndrome can be very slow, lasting weeks or months. As a result, observations on the mechanism of intoxication and the cause of death are liable to confusion between the primary mechanism and the secondary pathology that is produced as a result of the generalized incapacity of the patient.


Skeletal Muscle Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Culture Filtrate Neuromuscular Junction Physiological Aspect 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sumner I. Zacks
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael F. Sheff
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Pennsylvania HospitalPhiladelphiaUSA

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