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Tetanus jab shortage warning

30th June 2006

Hospitals have been warned that they may run out of the frontline treatment used to prevent tetanus.

Dr David Salisbury, the government's director of immunisation policy, has written to hospitals to advise them on how to deal with shortages.

The Department of Health said supplies would be restored to normal levels by mid-July.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms. It can be deadly if not treated. It is most often contracted after being bitten by an animal carrying the bacterium which causes the disease.

The usual treatment is to administer an anti-toxin called tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG).

The Department of Health said the risk of people developing tetanus was low, as most were already immunised. TIG was usually only given as an extra precaution.

A spokeswoman stressed that it was not expecting any increase in the number of cases, which on average is six a year.

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