Tetanus is mainly a disease of the developing countries and is a rare disease in the developed countries, it can affect new born children, called neonatal tetanus and has a high mortality. In the early 1980s, about one million newborns were estimated to die of neonatal tetanus every year. By 1994, the number of deaths had fallen to around 4,80,000 annually.
The disease occurs more commonly when tetanus immunization levels of the community are low, labor and delivery are carried out under unhygienic circumstances and in general, the hygiene of the community is poor.
Tetanus is still widely prevalent in India. The extent of the problem is revealed by the occurrence of cases of Neonatal Tetanus (NNT). Reporting of NNT cases by hospitals and other treatment facilities has been made mandatory. Neonatal tetanus is one of the most under reported notifiable diseases. Yet, in India in 1995, around 5,600 cases of tetanus reported. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Bihar and Assam have the highest rate of the prevalence of neonatal tetanus in the country. This is mainly due to the low tetanus immunization coverage levels in these states and over 70% of the deliveries are conducted by untrained personnel.
NNT has a marked seasonal incidence in India, More than 50% of the total annual cases of NNT occur in the months of July, August and September.
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