Surveillance

Tetanus became nationally reportable in 1947. Reported tetanus cases have declined more than 95%, and deaths from tetanus have declined more than 99% in the United States since 1947.

Since 1947, the number of tetanus cases reported each year, which already had decreased greatly since 1900, continued to decline (see figure below). This decline was in part because of continued use of tetanus antitoxin for wound management and introduction of tetanus vaccines in the 1930s and 1940s. Introduction of tetanus vaccines led to routinely vaccinating all children and the addition of tetanus boosters for adults. Sporadic cases of tetanus continue to occur in adults who did not get all the recommended tetanus vaccinations. This includes people who have never received a tetanus vaccine or adults who don’t stay up to date on their 10-year booster shots. Health departments report cases of tetanus to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Public health officials conduct tetanus surveillance to monitor trends in incidence and identify populations at increased risk.

Tetanus—United States, 1947-2017.

Caption: The figure above shows reported tetanus cases in the United States during 1947–2017, according to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System. From 1947–2017, the number of tetanus cases reported each year, which already had decreased greatly since 1900, continued to decline.

Page last reviewed: February 28, 2019