1. An acute, often fatal infectious disease caused by the anaerobic, spore forming bacillus clostridium tetani, the agent most often enters the body through contaminated puncture wounds (for example those caused by metal nails, wood splinters or insect bites), although other portals of entry include burns, surgical wounds, cutaneous ulcers, injections sites of drug abusers, the umbilical stump of neonates (t, neonatorum) and the postpartum uterus.
2. Physiological tetanus, a state of sustained muscular contraction without periods of relaxation caused by repetitive stimulation of the motor nerve trunk at frequencies so high that individual muscle twitches are fused and cannot be distinguished from one another, also called tonic spasm and tetany.
Origin: Gr. Tetanos, from tenein = to stretch