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Tetanus Shots Encouraged for Horses Because of Tornado Debris


Joplin’s tornado scattered debris across many counties, including in the pastures of rural southwest Missouri. As KSMU’s Scott Butler reports, horses may be affected.

Specialists say that horses may need new tetanus shots. Horses in the affected pasture may be infected with the bacteria called tetanus.

Tetanus is a very serious disease that kills about 80 percent of horses it infects. The tetanus bacteria are ingested by horses and can be found in the gut and in manure. Eldon Cole, the livestock specialist at the University of Missouri Extension in Mt. Vernon, is encouraging breeders and farmers to get their horses a more recent tetanus shot.

“This is why on tetanus especially, we encouraged people to have their horses vaccinated, especially if they are in a pasture where they might have nails or other objects, sharp objects. Anything of that nature might cause an injury to their hooves, to their legs or any parts of their body,” said Cole.

The MU Extension office says the source of a tetanus infection is nearly always through a wound. The wound may, in some cases, be so small that the source injury can no longer be found once a vet is called.

“The tetanus condition we worry most about in horses is caused by a spore that is going to be found in the soil anyway but it’s kind of an opportunistic individual and it affects the animal when there is a cut or open wound of some type that occurs,” he said.

For more information about tetanus shots, contact your local veterinarian. For other information about affected farmlands and pasture, you can contact one of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole, at 466-3102 or Dona Goede (GAY-dee) in Cedar County, at 276-3313.

For KSMU News, I’m Scott Butler.