Cherokee Animal Clinic
P O Box 416
665 Johnson Street
Rusk, TX 75785
Clinic Hours:
Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 5:30 pm


Tetanus occurs when a wound becomes infected with bacterial spores of Clostridium tetani. These spores germinate, multiply and produce a very powerful poison which affects the muscles. Some cases of tetanus occur from wounds that are so small they are not noticed.


An affected horse moves with a stiff-legged gait, often with the tail held out stiffly and the ears pricked. As the disease progresses the muscles become so rigid and stiff that the horse may fall and not be able to get up again. Convulsions may occur and death is caused by paralysis of the breathing muscles.


Treatment is difficult, time consuming, very expensive and often unsuccessful. It involves the use of tetanus antitoxin (Equivac TAT) to neutralise unbound circulating toxin, penicillin to prevent further growth of C/. tetani, muscle relaxants to relax the rigid muscles, and supportive therapy until the toxin is eliminated or destroyed.


Vaccination is the only way to provide long term protection against tetanus. It should be remembered that the horse is the most susceptible animal to tetanus. Vaccination is the only way to provide safe, effective long-term protection against tetanus. If an unvaccinated horse is injured, tetanus antitoxin should be administered to provide immediate but short-term (3 weeks) protection. At the same time a vaccination program should be commenced to develop long-lasting immunity. Tetanus vaccine alone provides long-lasting protection but immunity takes 7-10 days to develop, and an injured horse may develop tetanus before protection is achieved. Tetanus antitoxin alone provides protection in 2-3 hours but it only lasts for 3 weeks and tetanus may develop after this protection has waned.


Contact our office to set up a vacination schedule for your equine family!

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