All horses are at risk of developing tetanus, an often fatal disease caused by a potent neurotoxin called Clostridium tetani (Cl. tetani). Spores of Cl. tetani survive in the environment for many years, resulting in an ever-present risk of exposure to horses and people in equine facilities. Tetanus is not a contagious disease but is the result of Cl. tetani infection of puncture wounds (particularly those involving the foot or muscle), open lacerations, surgical incisions, exposed tissues such as the umbilicus of foals and reproductive tract of the postpartum mare (especially in the event of trauma or retained placenta).
Tetanus toxin affects the horse by causing:
- Rigid paralysis
- Spasms of the muscles (often the jaw muscles are affected first, hence the name “lockjaw”)
- Anxious expression
- Reaction to noises or movements with spasms or convulsions
- Respiratory paralysis and dehydration that can lead to death
Other AAEP Core Vaccinations: