It is often reported (NIH) that some of the most common infections by Clostridium tetani are in minor wounds where, in theory, blood (hence oxygen) supply should not be completely disrupted.

How can this obligate anaerobic bacillus proliferate in such conditions? Are concomitant necrotizing infections (such as, for example, Staphylococcus aureus) to blame?

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    $\begingroup$ SE Medical Sciences might be a better fit for this kin of question. In addition, it would improve your question if you cited a reference for your “often reported”. (Also the number agreement in your question is ungrammatical, but I’ll fix it for you.) $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Also, please note that there's a big difference between minor wounds and tetanus-prone wounds. Differentiating between the two will help your question. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ Another piece of background information: Even for organisms classified as obligate anaerobes, there can a spectrum of oxygen sensitivity. Some strains of C. difficile can grow in up to 3% oxygen, and this trait may be associated with increased virulence. I don't know of any C. tetani research in this area, but I imagine a similar spectrum of oxygen tolerance exists, enabling some isolates to grow in microaerobic conditions. $\endgroup$
    – MikeyC
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Nondisruption of blood supply seems to be a heuristic/rule of thumb/approximation of the survival of oxygen supply to tissue in and around a "minor" wound. What I mean is, it's not a 100% confirmation of persistent oxygenation, especially if we consider every relevant locus at the wound site. Remember we're talking of microbes here and at that scale, anerobic pockets can exist even in the presence of macroscopically visible redness/bleeding/oozing (signs of good circulation) and that's all clostridium tetani needs to proliferate, synthesize and release its deadly toxin.


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