I wanted to do an article on tetanus because, if you’re like me, you always get your horse vaccinated against it but it’s become so automatic that you’ve kind of forgotten what tetanus is exactly – the finer points of the disease, if you will.
Tetanus can occur when a wound becomes infected with the Clostridium tetani bacterium – which is naturally found in soil and animal feces.  This bacterium produces a powerful neurotoxin which results in muscle contraction and spasm.  The incubation period for this disease is anywhere from 3 to 21 days. 
  • Inability to eat as the jaw is unable to move (“lockjaw”)
  • Movement becomes progressively more rigid
  • Tail may be raised
  • Ears constantly pricked forward
  • Horse may be unable to bend or flex their neck
  • Muscle spasms affecting small areas, or possibly the entire body, will become apparent
  • As the disease progresses, it moves into the horses’ lungs and causes an inability to breath resulting in death. 
  • Generally consists of antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and the tetanus antitoxin.
  • Vaccination – annually on regularly vaccinated horses.  If the horse hasn’t been vaccinated, or its vaccination status is unknown, the horse should receive 2 doses administered 3 to 6 weeks apart.
  • Proper wound management
Well this was informative, but depressing.  Please, make sure to take proper care of any/all injuries your horse sustains! Here’s a pretty picture to leave this on an upbeat note!

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