We encourage all horse owners to take a stand against deadly infections affecting our horses and foals, vaccination is a crucial component of any horse’s overall health program.
We can both keep track of your horse’s health and vaccination status with the online Health4Horses Registry, which allows you (and us) to log your horse’s vaccinations to access a combined record. The service also sends us reminders when boosters are due! Simply join Health4Horses.com.au to access the service. It’s free!
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in manure & soil. When this organism gains entry into the body to an area low in oxygen – such as a puncture wound – it produces a toxin, which migrates to the central nervous system. It can take 5 – 21 days for signs of an infection to occur & is not uncommon for the initial wound to be small & completely healed when signs occur.
Affected horses initially appear stiff, reluctant to move and have difficulty opening their mouth & therefore can not eat. The neck & head then stretch out & the tail may be slightly elevated. As the disease progresses they are unable to swallow & so drool saliva. The third eye-lid comes across the eye – initially in spasms & later permanently. The horse becomes hypersensitive to sound & will go into rigid spasms when disturbed. Eventually the respiratory muscles are affected making breathing difficult; the horse becomes progressively exhausted, collapses & dies.
Treatment is possible in very early cases but is prolonged & therefore expensive. Advanced cases require euthanasia to prevent a very painful death. This disease may be prevented in two ways. Because the initial wound may be small & go unnoticed – vaccination is the recommended method. Vaccination gives year-round protection & requires two injections a month apart followed by yearly boosters. Unvaccinated horses that are wounded may be treated with a short-acting “antitoxin” that will give protection for 2-3 weeks only.