A survey of veterinarians' practices, recommendations and perceptions associated with the prevention of tetanus in horses in Australia

S. T. Dennis, C. M. El Hage, V. J. Brookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Identify veterinarians' practices, recommendations and perceptions when preventing tetanus in horses in Australia. Methods: Graduated members of Equine Veterinarians Australia participated in an online survey about the prevention of tetanus in horses in Australia. Results: Of 77 respondents (response rate ~ 8%), 50 (65%) reported that they had attended collectively 145–152 cases of tetanus in horses in Australia (1.1 cases of tetanus observed/10 veterinarian-years since qualification). The estimated case fatality rate (CFR) was at least 79%. Puncture wounds were most frequently suspected as the entry point (32%; n = 47). Five respondents (7%) reported cases of localised tetanus. Three respondents reported generalised tetanus within 2 weeks of tetanus antitoxin (TAT) administration. Respondents did not report any cases of tetanus in horses which had been vaccinated according to manufacturer's recommendations. All respondents recommended vaccination, but over 50% (N = 45) stated ‘lack of veterinary recommendation’ as often or sometimes a reason why clients did not vaccinate horses. Opinions varied on the use of TAT for peri-exposure prophylaxis; 67% of respondents dosed TAT independent of body weight, with the rest dosing according to body weight. Cases of Theiler's disease related to the use of TAT were not reported in Australia by respondents. Discussion: The caseload of equine tetanus appears relatively low among equine veterinarians in Australia. Consistent with the literature, estimated CFR was high. Respondents' recommendations and perceptions about tetanus vaccination were generally consistent but varied regarding TAT usage. Evidence for TAT usage is limited and we recommend studies of TAT efficacy in horses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 05 Feb 2022

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