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March 10, 1962

Serum Neuritis from Tetanus Antitoxin

Author Affiliations

Waterford, Wis.

Dr.Bardenwerper is now Assistant Medical Director of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Milwaukee.

JAMA. 1962;179(10):763-766. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050100017004

Serious neurological complications may result from the administration of tetanus antitoxin. The clinical features of serum neuritis deserve greater emphasis if prompt therapy, which is thought to improve the prognosis, is to be regularly instituted. The sadly lagging campaign for universal active tetanus immunization needs impetus. The increasing frequency and possible severity of reactions to tetanus antitoxin, including serum sickness, serum neuritis, or death, its decreasing efficiency when used on subsequent occasions, and the relative complexity of its proper use, make its disadvantages evident. The impressive efficiency and comparative safety of tetanus toxoid urgently recommend a stepped-up campaign for active tetanus immunization with recall injections at proper intervals. An extensive review of the literature and an accompanying case report support these claims.