What is the mortality rate for tetanus (lockjaw)?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Patrick B Hinfey, MD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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The case-fatality ratio in the United States was 91% in 1947, [10] 21-31% from 1982 to 1990, 11% from 1995 to 1997, and 18% from 1998 to 2000. Current statistics indicate that mortality in mild and moderate tetanus is approximately 6%; for severe tetanus, it may be as high as 60%. Mortality in the United States resulting from generalized tetanus is 30% overall, 52% in patients older than 60 years, and 13% in patients younger than 60 years.

Mortality is substantially higher for people older than 60 years (40%) than for those aged 20-59 years (8%). From 1998 to 2000, 75% of the deaths in the United States were in patients older than 60 years. [10] In addition, mortality is notably higher for people who require mechanical ventilation (30%) than for those who do not (4%).

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