Researchers Define Botulism Survival Rates in Adult Horses

Penn Vet researchers found that adult horses that retained the ability to stand had a 95% survival rate, while those that became recumbent had an 18% survival rate.

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Researchers Define Botulism Survival Rates in Adult Horses
Botulism is a disease caused by a neurotoxin that is considered to be the most potent and lethal known to mankind. | Photo: Courtesy University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s (Penn Vet) New Bolton Center have completed important research on botulism in horses, showing that adult horses that maintain the ability to stand on their own have a much better rate of survival in a hospital setting than those that lose the ability to stand.

The study showed that if an adult horse was able to rise on its own throughout the disease, 95% survived and had a full recovery. If the horse lost the ability to stand, however, only 18% survived.

“If the horse maintains the ability to stand, the horse has an excellent prognosis of a full recovery,” said Amy Johnson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, assistant professor of large animal medicine and neurology at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center.

In addition, if the horse was given antitoxin (the only known treatment for botulism) within six hours of admission, it had a much better chance of survival—121 times better—than horses that did not receive antitoxin

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