Tetanus is a terrible disease cause by Clostridium tetani bacteria. Horses are particularly sensitive to tetanus when compared with other species. Clostridium tetani bacteria normally gain entry through a wound. These bacteria then produce a toxin which results in a contraction of the musculature. Horses affected will normally appear distressed, with rigid, pricked up ears and protrusion of the 3rd eyelid when the head is lifted. Lockjaw is a term associated with tetanus, whereby the horse is unable to open its mouth, leaving it unable to eat or drink. Fortunately we are able to prevent it through the use of vaccination.
Equine influenza (flu) is caused by a virus. There are a number of different strains of this virus, but they result in a similar picture of disease- coughing, lethargy, nasal discharge, reduced appetite etc. Initially the nasal discharge is likely to be clear, however will often become yellow or green when complicated by secondary bacterial infection. It can be a debilitating disease and is very contagious- easily passed from one horse to another if they are unvaccinated. It is normally passed on through contact with respiratory secretions or direct horse to horse contact.