Tetanus in Horses: What You Must Know

Tetanus-in-Horses-what-you-must-know

Horses are at great risk of contracting tetanus. Although tetanus is not contagious, it can be fatal.

How does a horse get tetanus?

A horse can easily get tetanus through an open wound, a puncture wound, or a surgical incision. In addition, a foal’s navel, or a postpartum mare’s reproductive tract that has been infected by the Clostridium tetani bacteria can lead to tetanus.

What symptoms will a horse with tetanus show?

A horse with tetanus will display the following symptoms: colic, stiff gait, difficulty breathing, unable to eat or drink, extremely sensitive to light, sound and to being handled.

How is tetanus in horses treated?

Treating a horse with tetanus involves cleaning the infected area, surgical removal of the dead tissue, and injecting the wound with penicillin. In addition, the horse must be kept hydrated with intravenous fluids. During the recovery phase, an infected horse should be kept in a dark stall due to the horse’s acute sensitivity to light. A vaccination program should be implemented as a way to help prevent a horse from being infected.

When should a horse be vaccinated against Tetanus?

Adult Horses, Previously Vaccinated: vaccinate on an annual basis. Your horse should be revaccinated immediately after suffering a wound or surgery if the wound or surgery occurs 6 or more months after their previous tetanus booster.

Adult Horses, Previously Unvaccinated: provide a primary 2-dose series of tetanus toxoid at a 4- to 6- week interval between doses. Annual vaccination is strongly recommended.

Pregnant Mares, Previously vaccinated: Yearly vaccinations 4- to 6-weeks prior to foaling is recommended.

Pregnant Mares, Unvaccinated: Give a 2-dose primary series with a 4- to 6- week interval between doses. Four to six weeks prior to foaling revaccinate.

Foals of vaccinated mares in the pre-partum stage: administer a primary 3-dose series starting at 4- to 6- months of age with a 4- to 6-week interval between the first and second dose. Give the third dose at 10 to 12 months of age.

Foals of unvaccinated mares: Start with a primary 3-dose series at 3 to 4 months of age. Wait 4 to 6 weeks before administering the second dose. The third dose should be given at 10 to 12 months of age.

Naturally infected and recovered horses: Annual vaccination is recommended.

To protect your horse against tetanus, we suggest the following vaccine:
tetanus-toxoid-vaccine

Tetanus Toxoid

Tetanus Toxoid vaccine is recommended for the vaccination of healthy horses in preventing tetanus. Tetanus Toxoid works by exposing your horse to a small dose of the bacteria which causes your horse’s body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

In conclusion, horses can get infected with tetanus through an open wound, a puncture wound, or surgical incision. Tetanus is not contagious, but is can be fatal. A horse with tetanus will have one or more of the following symptoms: stiff gait, colic, difficulty breathing, unable to eat or drink, extremely sensitive to light, sound and to being handled. Treatment involves cleaning the wound, surgical removal of dead tissue, and injecting the wound with penicillin. Vaccinating your horse with tetanus is an effective way to prevent it from being infected.

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