TETANUS

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a bacterial disease caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium tetani. 

Where is tetanus found?

Tetanus occurs when a wound becomes infected with clostridium tetani spores, which are present in the soil. The spores of the organism can survive in the environment for many years. All horses are at risk of this disease, even if they are relatively inactive. 

How does it affect horses?

Clostridium tetani gains access to the horse through infected wounds. Once inside the wound, if the conditions are favourable (ie; reduced oxygenation in the tissues) the spores germinate and produce a powerful toxin that affects the central nervous system. 

Convulsions can occur and death may result due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Treatment is difficult, expensive and often unsuccessful. 

Some signs to look out for:

  • Rigid muscles and paralysis, with a classical ‘saw-horse’ stance
  • Protrusion of the third eyelids
  • “Lockjaw”
  • Hypersensitivity to noise and light 

Convulsions can occur and death may result due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Treatment is difficult, expensive and often unsuccessful.

At what age are horses at risk?

All horses are at risk once the period of maternal antibody protection has passed.

Vet giving tetanus vaccine shot