Friday, 20 January 2017

All About ... Tetanus

What is it

Tetanus is found throughout the world and affects all domestic animals except cats!  It is common in horses.  It usually results in death but is easily preventable.

  • Stiffness/rigidity of body 
  • Tail held out stiffly 
  • Difficulty moving 
  • Difficulty taking in food and chewing 
  • Drooling saliva and food 
  • Third eyelid protrudes across the eye.  
  • Loud noises, bright light and touch can exacerbate the symptoms 
  • Sweating in some cases 
  • Eventually convulsions and death


The Clostridium tetani bacterium produces a toxin which affects the nervous system.  It is found in the soil and manure but can also live in the ground for many years and is resistant to many standard disinfectants. Puncture wounds in the hoof can allow the bacterium to enter the body and it then multiplies.  However, it can lie dormant in the body for several months before conditions are ideal for multiplication.  The bacterium can also enter the body via the intestines if the horse eats infected soil or droppings


Call the VET. 


Treatment works in some cases. Place horse in a quiet, dark stable with a deep bed and limited handling!  Antibiotics will be given along with a tetanus antitoxin which can be injected into the muscles and intravenously.  Food and water should be offered at a height which the horse can easily reach.  Intravenous fluids can be given and the horse may be supported in a sling.  However, euthanasia is often the kindest choice.


Vaccination every 2 years.  Initially there are 2 injections given 4 - 6 weeks apart .  First aid and early treatment of wounds.  Good paddock maintenance and ensuring stables and yards are clear of protruding objects etcetera which could cause injury.

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Until next time!

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