You Don't Get Tetanus From Rust



We've all heard that stepping on a rusty nail can give you tetanus and that’s true, but not for the reason you might think. Rust doesn't actually cause tetanus. Tetanus is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani, which makes its home in soil, dust, and feces. If you get a puncture wound from something that's been exposed to any one of those elements — regardless of whether there's rust — it's possible to become infected with tetanus. Nails are a common route for infection because C. tetani thrives in an oxygen-deprived settings like the one far below your skin's surface. Still, every injury that breaks the skin — from a dog bite to a safety-pin mishap — carries with it the potential for tetanus. So, how did rust get a bad rap? The thinking goes that if the nail has been outside long enough to get rusty, then it's probably been exposed to soils containing the bacteria. Rust also creates a new, rough texture on the surface of a nail, full of microscopic hiding places for bacteria. Most people are vaccinated for tetanus when they're young, but you should definitely get vaccinated every 10 years.