Tetanus In Horses

Sometimes called "lockjaw" tetanus in horses is caused by toxin-producing bacteria that can be found in the intestinal tract of many animals and found in abundance in the soil where horses live. Its spores can exist for years. The spores enter the body through wounds, lacerations. It is not contagious from horse to horse.

Clinical signs:

Muscle stiffness and rigidity, flared nostrils, hypersensitivity, stiff legs. the muscles in the jaw and face stiffen as the disease progresses. Convulsions may occur and death is caused by paralysis of the breathing muscles. More that 80% of affected horses die.

Treatment is difficult, time consuming, very expensive and often unsuccessful. It involves the use of tetanus antitoxin (Equivac TAT) to neutralize unbound circulating toxin, penicillin to prevent further growth of C/. tetani, muscle relaxants to relax the rigid muscles, and supportive therapy until the toxin is eliminated or destroyed.

Vaccination is the only way to provide safe, effective long-term protection against tetanus. All horses should be immunized annually.

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