The appearance elsewhere in this issue (p 1041) of a communication urging widespread tetanus immunization of the civilian population serves as a timely and urgent reminder of the importance of this disease in the United States.
Recent data1 demonstrate a consistently high fatality rate, in spite of a steady but slow decline in tetanus morbidity in the United States. This fact points up the severe nature of the disease once contracted and the limitations inherent in present methods of therapy.
In 1962, 322 cases of tetanus were reported in this country.2 A large proportion of these cases are accounted for by the high attack rates among neonates and in adults over 50 years of age. Neonatal tetanus accounted for 10% to 15% of the total cases, but approximately one third of the fatalities. It is also not widely appreciated that slightly under one half of all cases, and