Clostridium tetani and Tetanus

Movement of our voluntary muscles is controlled by our central nervous system. This animation describes the process of infection with Clostridium tetani and how the toxin it releases interrupts nervous control of our muscles, leading to tetanus. This loss of muscle control causes the convulsive muscle spasms typical of tetanus, which are so severe they can cause bone fractures and dislocations. Death often occurs due to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. With adequate immunisation, tetanus is a completely preventable disease. However in developing nations, without comprehensive vaccination programmes, tetanus remains one of the top ten causes of death. Universal vaccination, including pregnant women, is vital to preventing this terrible affliction.

Click here to view the video with captions

Design and animation by Dr. Maja Divjak

Thank you to Dr David Donovan, co-founder of New Foundations Medical Mission for footage of the baby with tetanus. For more information on New Foundations, visit

This animation was created for the Gene Technology Access Centre, Melbourne, Australia

This animation has won Awards of Excellence for Health, Science and Visual SFX categories, Doctors Without Borders Film Festival 2017.