Botulism: A Deadly Disease

Botulism in not a disease many horse owners are familiar with—but they should be as the disease is often deadly. Caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, the soil-borne disease is more common in certain areas of the country, like Kentucky. The spores of the bacterium produce a neurotoxin that block the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. This results in progressive weakness that makes the horse unable to swallow. Up to 50 percent of horses that receive supportive care can die; those that get no assistance are even more likely to perish from the disease.

Horses can get botulism in three ways:

  • Ingestion of decaying plant material or animal carcasses in hay or on pasture grass
  • Infection through wounds
  • Ingestion of spores and vegetative cells that cause Shaker Foal syndrome

There are different types of botulism: Types and B are associated with forage, while Type C is associated with the accidental ingestion of decaying animals.

A vaccination for botulism type B is available, but it is not considered a core vaccination as it is found mainly in Kentucky and the mid-Atlantic states. A horse’s risk of getting the disease should be discussed with its treating veterinarian to determine if vaccination is necessary.

Foals are at particular risk of developing botulism, so pregnant mares should be vaccinated against the disease before they foal. Foals born in areas of the country where botulism abounds should receive Botulism type B toxoid at 2, 4 and 8 weeks old even if the mare was vaccinated.

There are no licensed vaccines for botulism A or C.

Read the AAEP botulism vaccination recommendations here.

Read more at Stable Management.

The post Botulism: A Deadly Disease appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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