TETANUS or "LOCK JAW" is a zoonotic disease (affects animals and humans). It cannot be transmitted between animals, animals and humans or vise versa, however IT IS COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE! A Tetanus Toxoid vaccine confers immunity for up to 10 years in humans. Not so in animals. We recommend horses, goats, sheep and pigs get a booster at least once a year. Dogs are less susceptible and vaccines are not usually given. If your dog does contract tetanus (e.g. via at spay or neuter sites), it usually survives with adequate treatment and care. Not so in other animals.
Here in Bermuda more goats are susceptible than realised. I have witnessed this disease in goats, pigs, sheep and a horse. In all instances except the sheep, which was vaccinated previously, the animals were humanely euthanized. The prolonged suffering and cost of extended care with no guarantee of survival played a huge role in the owners' decision. However once vaccinated, as in the case of the sheep mentioned above, healing occurs rapidly with treatment.
Clostridium tetani is a Gram positive anaerobic spore forming bacteria that has survived for years (centuries) in Bermuda soil (some areas more than others) where animals historically resided at farms. Once spores are unearthed and penetrate flesh via rusty nails, tin, broken glass or open wounds e.g. castration, dehorning, navels in newborns they reproduce rapidly when open air is minimized. Once symptoms set in, this disease is very difficult to treat and unvaccinated farm animals, especially horses rarely recover.
REDUCE INFECTION BY
1. Flushing wounds with water
2. Scrub wounds with an antibacterial soap e.g. hibiscrub ASAP to decrease tissue spore invaders
3. Expose wounds to air
4. Call your veterinarian to vaccinate with Tetanus Antitoxin immediately
PREVENT TETANUS INFECTION BY
1. Removing rusty metal objects from premises
2. Practicing good hygiene, washing/flushing surfaces in contact with soil
3. Dipping navels with povidone iodine or diluted betadine solution soon after birth
4. Vaccinating newborns with Tetanus Antitoxin followed by a 1st Tetanus Toxoid booster in 3 weeks, a 2nd booster one month later, then once a year thereafter
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TETANUS ANTITOXIN AND TETANUS TOXOID? Tetanus Antitoxin immediately attacks neurotoxins released from tetanus spores and lasts between 10 and 14 days. Tetanus Toxoid causes an animal's body to produce antibodies which attack tetanus spores in about 10 days. Full immunity is conferred after 2 boosters are given 4 - 6 weeks apart. Vaccinating annually with Tetanus Toxoid will help the body "remember" to produce antibodies specific to Tetanus. It is advised, vaccinated animals exposed to a known tetanus risk area after an injury or surgery be given Tetanus Antitoxin and a Tetanus Toxoid booster at the same time.
A CLOSER LOOK...... The following video stresses the importance of tetanus vaccinations in order to save lives
It is said, "An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure"