Veterinary expert discusses pros of equine botulism vaccine

Dr. Christina Vittoria, D.V.M. is a veterinary expert practicing equine, small ruminant and companion animal medicine at Willow Creek Equine Veterinary Services in Pennsylvania.

Recently, she wrote for newspaper Reading Eagle about a threat on the minds of all horse owners and caretakers — equine botulism. Dr. Vittoria answers a key question from a concerned reader:

Dear Dr. Vittoria: The barn manager at my boarding facility recently changed to feeding large square bales of hay. I have heard they are not good for horses, but I don’t know why. Should I be worried? — Concerned

Dear Concerned: Large square bales and round bales can pose a significant risk to your horse. There is a chance that when they are made, a dead animal accidentally could be bound up into the dried hay. This would rot inside a bale without oxygen, which the organism Clostridium botulinum thrives in.

Dr. Vittoria goes on to explain why baled hay poses a risk for equine botulism and what can be done about it — namely, the benefits of vaccination, and how it can save lives.

The saddest case I saw was a mare that had to be put to sleep because her case of botulism was so bad. The problem was that her baby was pawing at her trying to get her to get up so he could get a drink of milk. Please vaccinate!

Read the article in full here at Reading Eagle’s website.

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