What Is The Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin?

Tetanus is an issue that many different species have to deal with. For horses, you may wonder what is the difference between tetanus toxoid and antitoxin? Though many people don’t realize it, there are actually two different types of tetanus shots for horses.

Providing a tetanus shot is an essential health precaution when working with horses. Just like humans, horses are suspectable of getting tetanus, so to prevent it, they will get tetanus shots. It is important to understand the differences between the two tetanus shots and what they do.

Tetanus In Horses
Weimaraner vs German Shorthaired Po...
Weimaraner vs German Shorthaired Pointer

Tetanus is a type of bacterial disease that affects humans, horses, and other animals. It is a toxic reaction a specific poison that stops the transmission of inhibitory nerve signals to muscles. In return, severe muscle contraction occurs, along with an exaggerated response to stimuli with no relaxation phase.

The bacteriumO of tetanus is known as Clostridium tetanii.  It can be found in soil along with droppings just about everywhere. The bacterium is able to survive environment for long periods of time.

Tetanus enters the body through wounds, especially puncture wounds if the wound happens to be dirty. Most commonly, puncture wounds located on the sole of the foot are a common area for infection. In addition, an infection can occur through the intestines from gastric or intestinal ulcers after eating contaminated soil or droppings.

In foals, a tetanus infection can occur by the umbilicus (navel).  The bacteria of tetanus don’t need oxygen, as they are classified as ‘anaerobic’ bacteria, multiplying rapidly in the damaged tissues of the injury. They produce a toxin called tetanus toxin and it is this potent neurotoxin that leads to the classical signs of tetanus.

Signs Of Tetanus

The incubation of tetanus can last anywhere from one week to several weeks. However, horses will generally show signs of tetanus between 10 to 14 days.

Horses with tetanus will show signs of stiffness, often in the jaw, neck, hind legs, and area of the infection site. Spasms can progress to be severe enough that they cause bone fractures. Spasms in the head can lead to problems eating and chewing, which leads many to refer to the disease as lockjaw.

As it continues to worsen the ears and tail become stiff while the nostrils dilate. Horses will have difficulty eating and walking and breathing, oftentimes sweating profusely.

Horses will have spasms of the neck and back muscles, leading to an extended head and neck. Stiffness of the legs will cause horses to stand in an extended stance referred to as ‘sawhorse.’ In serious cases, horses can collapse from spasms.

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What Is The Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin

Treatment Of Tetanus – What Is The Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin?

Unfortunately, 80% of tetanus cases in horses result in death. However, the chances of survival are higher when the disease is caught earlier.

For treatment of tetanus, horses are given tetanus antitoxin along with antibiotics, such as penicillin. The treatments are injected intravenously and intramuscularly, sometimes in the space around the spinal cord, The site of the wound is also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

During the treatment process, horses should be kept in a dark, quiet stall to help with anxiety. If the horse is able to eat, food should be offered and if need be, intravenous fluids may be given. In some more serious cases, a sling may be used to support the horse.

Tetanus can be easily prevented in horses with the vaccine tetanus toxoid. It is important to vaccinate your horse to reduce the risk of tetanus. Be sure to also keep stalls and pastures free of old tractor or equipment parts, rusty nails, corrugated iron sheets and other building materials that may cause injury.

What Is The Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin?

Tetanus toxoid is administered as a vaccine to horses to prevent tetanus. The initial course of the vaccine has two injections given about four to six weeks apart followed by a booster at one year, along with further boosters annually.

Tetanus antitoxin is given to horses that have become affected with tetanus as a treatment. If your horse is unvaccinated and gets a wound, tetanus antitoxin should be administered to your horse followed by tetanus toxoid and if possible they should be given at the same time.

Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin

When given in a timely manner in an infected horse, tetanus antitoxin helps protect against the effects of additional toxin being released from the bacteria that causes tetanus. Whether the horse has been vaccinated or not, the horse is given another injection of tetanus toxoid. This is done to increase the production of antibodies to the toxin.

It is very rare for a vaccinated horse to get tetanus. Mares should be vaccinated within the last six weeks of pregnancy, with foals then being vaccinated five to eight weeks of age.

In high-risk areas, foals may be given tetanus antitoxin right after being born along with every two to three weeks until they are three months old. At three months old, they can be given tetanus toxoid.

Preventing Tetanus In Horses – What Is The Difference Between Tetanus Toxoid And Antitoxin?

Tetanus toxoid is given as vaccination in horses to prevent them from getting tetanus. Tetanus antitoxin, on the other hand, is given as a treatment if the horse has tetanus.

Do you have any questions regarding what is the difference between tetanus toxoid and antitoxin? If so, please ask any questions regarding preventing and treating tetanus in horses in the comments.

FAQ’s

Why is Tetanus Antitoxin Given?

Tetanus antitoxin is given to treat tetanus in horses. It works by helping protect against additional toxin being released from the bacteria that causes tetanus.

When is Tetanus Toxoid Used?

Tetanus toxoid is given as a vaccine to prevent tetanus in horses. At first, the vaccine has two injections given around four to six weeks apart followed by a booster at one year, along with annual boosters.

When is Tetanus Toxoid Given?

Foals can be vaccinated at five to eight weeks of age with tetanus toxoid. In high-risk areas, foals may be given tetanus antitoxin right after birth along with every two to three weeks until the age of three months old. At three months old, they can be given tetanus toxoid.

Is Antitoxin a Toxoid?

An antitoxin is given when the disease is already present as a way of treatment. Toxoid is given as a vaccine to prevent the disease from happening.