While most animals are susceptible to tetanus, few are more at risk than horses — and tetanus is as big a threat as ever.
Tetanus-causing bacteria are found almost everywhere there’s soil and manure. But they don’t cause problems in the environment — it’s only when they contaminate wounds. There, the bacteria secrete a nerve toxin that causes the classic signs of tremors and stiffness. By then, tetanus is very difficult to treat.
Any wound can be infected: puncture wounds, lacerations, surgical incisions — even a mare’s retained placenta or a foal’s umbilicus. A horse can sustain a wound at any time, which may go undetected for a while. That’s why annual tetanus vaccinations are so important.
If your horse’s vaccinations are out of date, contact your veterinarian right away. Prevention is the only way to fight this dreaded disease.