Tetanus – it’s a killer – Do you know if your horse is safe?

Is your horse protected? I find many people believe their horse is protected because “the vet came out to treat a wound and gave a tetanus shot then’. They are wrong.

The tetanus bacteria (Clostridium tetani) is very common in our soils. It produces a toxin when it infects wounds. Horses are extremely sensitive to the tetanus toxin. The toxin causes muscle spasms which worsen from very pricked ears to lockjaw to paralysis of the muscles for respiration to DEATH. Once a horse is showing the symptoms of Tetanus it is extremely unlikely the horse can be saved and euthanasia is advised so the horse doesn’t suffer a very painful and surely terrifying death.

That one off “tetanus shot” the vet gave your horse would have been a Tetanus ANTITOXIN which gives only temporary protection from any tetanus toxin in the horse’s system at the time. It in no way vaccinates the horse and its protective effect will wear off within 2 to 6 weeks. 

Sadly there have been a few cases of tetanus in the Wairarapa over the past year. This is an easily preventable disease.

To ensure your horse is protected against Tetanus your horse needs to undergo a course of vaccine boosters using the tetanus TOXOID, the first, then a booster 4 weeks later, a further booster a year later then upto every 5 years after that. This can be boosted every year to retain really high levels of protection. Given the frequency with which horses injure themselves and create entry points for the tetanus bacterium, this is a very cost effective peace of mind policy.