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Tetanus in Horses, Equine Tetanus

Equine Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a clostridial bacteria which produces very dangerous toxins when it starts to breed in cuts and wounds. The toxin is so dangerous it kills horses very quickly causing characteristic nervous signs. The bacteria enters the body through wounds such as may occur when a hoof is punctured, or when sharp objects cause deep cuts. If unlucky infections after castrations and giving birth can result in tetanus bacteria entering the body.

Equine Tetanus enters the horse’s body when spores that the bacteria makes contaminate a wound. Such spores are quite common in soil and dirt and lay dormant for many years. It is therefore impossible to know when tetanus may arise and vaccination is very important to prevent infection.

Signs of Equine Tetanus
  1. Stiffness in different parts of the horse, muscle spasm e.g. of the jaw, tail head and ears.
  2. A worried expression as the eyelids are drawn back and nostrils flared due to muscle contraction.
  3. Drooling and regurgitation of food as swallowing becomes difficult.
Treatment of Tetanus
  1. Treatment is difficult and not often attempted unless it is early on in the development of signs.
  2. Large does of antibiotic and antitoxin are required which is very expensive.
Vaccination for Tetanus
  1. Vaccination is a good way of preventing Tetanus in horses.
  2. Usually vaccinations are given every two years.
  3. Vaccinating more regularly than once every two years may make the vaccination less effective and damage the immune system.
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