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Question about Botulism Vaccine

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  • Question about Botulism Vaccine

    I want administer the botulism vaccine to my horses. They have not been vaccinated for botulism before.

    My vet office recommends administering the series of three shots two weeks apart. A friend's vet recommends administering the shots three weeks apart. Label information on the vaccine recommends administering the shots a month apart.

    Does anyone have any insight on the discrepancy? Does it make a real difference? Thanks for your input!
    "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

  • #2
    That vaccine is only approved for broodmares as a way to give the foal immunity to botulism. In SE Virginia a certain vet practice has been pushing the vaccine for all horses (making money in the process) and the vaccine is not labeled for use in anything other than broodmares. Keep in mind also that the vaccine only covers one type of botulism...there are several other types not covered by this vaccine.

    This vaccine is one of those feel good vaccines...feels good to us to give it to our horses but it's efficacy for off label use for riding horses is questionable.


    • #3
      I'm pretty sure we did it two weeks a part, but that was a few years ago. The only reason we vaccinated for it was because we were feeding round bales. I haven't vaccinated for it since. I have no idea if it works or not, but nobody got botulism

      However, my friend's older horse ended up very sick shortly after the vaccination (I think shot 1). Not sure if that's what caused it, but she almost lost him, and they never figured out what was wrong with him. To this day, she thinks it was the vaccine.
      "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


      • #4
        Direct from label:
        BOTVAX® B
        Purified botulinum type B toxoid aluminum phosphate adsorbed. Preservative: 0.01% Thimerosal. Contains no more than 0.2% formaldehyde as inactivating solution.
        INDICATIONS: BotVax B is for the prevention of equine botulism due to Clostridium botulinum Type B in healthy horses.
        DOSAGE: Inject 2.0 mL intramuscularly at monthly intervals for a total of 3 doses. Booster annually with a single 2.0 mL intramuscular dose.
        Research has demonstrated that pregnant mares immunized during the third trimester of gestation, with the third dose (booster) given 2 - 4 weeks before parturition, respond with antibody. This antibody is concentrated in colostrum and results in significant passively acquired antibody in normal sulking foals.

        I have always done 4 weeks in between-
        In this area, there's no way I would go without it
        "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
        So you might as well have a good time"


        • #5
          DDB, I'm not finding where it's only labeled for broodies. I'm finding that its use in broodies provides significant antibodies in the colostrum.

          Here's the label info for Neogen's BotVaxB
          BotVax[SIZE=1]®[/SIZE] B
          BotVax B is a monovalent product for prevention of disease caused by Clostridium botulinum type B. This product does not confer protection against other strains of C. botulinum. More about Clostridium botulinum type B toxoid
          For prevention of Botulism due to Clostridium botulinum Type B in healthy horses.
          Research has demonstrated that pregnant mares immunized during the third trimester of gestation, with the third dose (booster) given 2-4 weeks before partutition, respond with antibody. This antibody is concentrated in colostrum and results in significant passively acquired antibody in normal suckling foals.
          • Purified botulinum type B toxoid, aluminum phosphate absorbed
          • Thimerosal (as preservative) 0.01%
          • Formaldehyde (as inactivating solution) < 1.12%
          Directions For Use
          Inject 2 mL intramuscularly, using aseptic technique, at monthly intervals for a total of 3 doses. Booster annually with a single 2 mL intramuscular dose. Shake well before use.
          For veterinary use only.

          Do not vaccinate food-producing animals within 21 days before slaughter.

          Transitory tissue reaction at the injection site, such as heat and minor swelling, may occur.

          Anaphylactoid reactions may occur. Epinephrine is antidotal.

          Use the entire contents of the container when first opened. Do not store opened vials.

          For animal use only.
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            Sorry but disagreeing with DDB here from first hand expreience. Many years ago I worked on a large boarding and breeding farm. WE had a broodmare die of botulism and then that same week another mare's foal came down with it. Our ONLY chance of saving this foal was with a plasma transfusion from the ONE horse on the property (a boarder's mare) that had been regularly vaccinated for botulism. Our vet took blood from her (I thin a pint or two, then separated the red blood cells from the plasma and infused the colt. As we did not have time to do blood tests, we took a chance the foal would not react and die from the trasnfusion, but had no other choice as he would have died anyways, he was rapidly becoming paralyzed. It did work, the foal survived, although it took a few weeks for him to recover neurologically enough to stand on his own, until that time we would have to get him up and support him several times daily to nurse. So the anitbodies from botulism vaccine DO provide immunity from the most prevalent strain that tends to affect horses.


            • #7
              I've always done them (and all vaccine series) between 3 and 6 weeks apart. Usually 3 weeks for PHF, WN and botulism, as the "big deal" ones, and whenever it's convenient for the others.


              • #8
                When my vet thought I lost Pride to Botulism he told me the vaccine was not widely used in our area because of it's ineffectiveness. No one really knows whether it works or not because some horses are protected after they receive it and some aren't. My vet told me some horses do get very sick from the vaccine. But of course that could just be him bullshi**ing because I was quite upset that he had not recommended my horse receive the shots. All in all, Pride did not die from Botulism and thanks to the research I did, I probably would not ask that my future horses receive the vaccine.
                Based on what I read, it said most Botulism is contracted through dead animals or such that are baled with the hay or just plain rotten hay. Theoretically if you are the only person feeding your horse (or if you have knowledgeable people feeding your horse) you would notice any bad hay and not feed it to your horse.
                Just some food for thought! Good luck with it!


                • #9
                  As a BO in SE VA, I can definantly say that our vet office reccomends 3 shots 4 weeks apart AND an ANNUAL booster. Skip the booster and you just flushed a lot o cash. Its a good idea if you feed round bales (rats etc... Get baled with the hay and if they have botulism or the bacteria from the ground gets in the rotting body and the horse eats it, your horse gets it) sorry to be gross, but... . They can get it other ways, like if an animal dies and the body rots into the ground, even years later, the bacteria (well its not technically bacteria but its close) the horse grazes the grass over that spot, he can get it. I didn't have my horse vaccinated, I decided it was a slim risk. Yes, the local offices were really pushing it but I decided that if it was really THAT prevailent, EVERYONE would do it. One boarder did it for her peace of mind. One boarder, a 4 yo Arab mare had a MASSIVE allergic reaction. As soon as she got back to her stall she was rolling. Major hives, profuse sweating, nasal swelling to the point we had to put tubes up her nose to keep her airways open. Thanks to quick banamine and steroids she was fine in a few hours. Vet said he had never seen that bad a reaction. That was a worst case scenario, but just be aware of the risks. As long as you keep up your boosters, your horses will be protected.



                  • #10
                    I had a horse show neurological symptoms after the first shot. Obviously I stopped, thank god so did he.
                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                    • #11
                      I have been giving the Botulism vaccine to my horses since 1991. It protects only against the B strain of Botulism, but that accounts for the vast majority of Botulism cases on the East Coast. It protects all horses, not just broodmares. I give the loading dosage of 3 shots, a month apart, followed by an annual booster. No horse has had a reaction, knock wood. Fwiw, the first vet who recommended it to me lost his own horse to Botulism at a very upscale barn.

                      Here are three good articles:





                      • #12
                        I gave the boosters four weeks apart. I have continued every year after without any reactions at all. Eighty percent of all equine botulism cases are caused by Botulism Type B, which is what the vaccine protects against. And it is not off-label use on horses other than broodmares, labels say healthy adult horses and then talk about broodmares.


                        • #13
                          Well, it was another local vet from a different practice that told me that the vaccine's primary use was for broodmares and to give immunity to the foals. I did not look up the label. One practice has been pushing it for all horses. The practice I now use (the one who is not recommending it for all horses) says that they do recommend it for broodmares in foal only.

                          I had a lot of my trimming clients panic when the other clinic put out bulletins suggesting that all local horses in their practice be vaccinated for botulism due to several outbreaks. They did not say what type of botulism it was and if the vaccine was effective for that variety or not.

                          So I did ask around and both practices were putting out conflicting information...one was saying all horses and the other just for pregnant mares. I was told that the second clinic did make some calls and found out that the vaccine is primarily intended for mares in foal. I do see that label and I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing or not.

                          So if you want to do it, unless your horse has a bad reaction, I don't suppose it will hurt him. It's not a very common disease and if you feed clean hay/feed, you'll probably be fine without it. I fall into the group that vaccinates the minimum necessary so I really did not fall into the rush this Spring to vaccinate for botulism when the one clinic pushed for it.


                          • #14
                            Peace of Mind

                            I used it for five years on everyone; including my mare before, during and after breeding/ foaling; The only reaction I ever noticed was in Mercury as a two year old; he did run an elevated temp for a few days; nothing to slow him down; given the fact that I used round bales once back in Virginia; the Peace of mind was worth it!
                            Originally posted by seabreeze View Post
                            I want administer the botulism vaccine to my horses. They have not been vaccinated for botulism before.

                            My vet office recommends administering the series of three shots two weeks apart. A friend's vet recommends administering the shots three weeks apart. Label information on the vaccine recommends administering the shots a month apart.

                            Does anyone have any insight on the discrepancy? Does it make a real difference? Thanks for your input!
                            breeder of Mercury!

                            remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                            • #15
                              Hi -

                              I am new here (howdy), and just thought I'd ad my 2cents. I use the Botulism vaccine on my guy and so do several other owners at the barn.

                              The first 3 doses are given 1 month apart and then an annual booster is given thereafter.

                              We have not had a bad reaction to the vaccine with any of the horses. A local horse on another farm did recently pass away due to botulism, so I feel more comfortable vaccinating.


                              • #16
                                One of those articles the earlier poster put up:


                                Type C (not covered by the vaccine) is the one usually found in contaminated feed. It is also the variety generally that would affect your riding or adult horse.

                                The first mechanism of entry is ingestion of preformed toxin in feed. When horses are exposed to botulism toxin in the feed in this manner, the disease is sometimes called “forage poisoning,” usually involv- ing type C toxin. Toxin might be present as a contaminant in feed, or if there are drop- pings or carcasses of small rodents in the feed bunk or water tub.

                                Type B (the one covered by this vaccine) primarily effects foals. Shaker foal syndrome.

                                Toxicoinfectious botulism is the second- most common form of botulism in horses, and this arises when the bacterium itself is ingested from soil and colonizes the gas- trointestinal tract. As it grows inside the body, it produces the toxin, and signs of disease become apparent as toxin is ab- sorbed into the bloodstream from the in- testinal tract. Clostridium botulinum type B predominates in the midwestern and Atlantic seaboard states, and it causes a manifestation of toxicoinfectious botu- lism called shaker foal disease. Shaker foal disease is a form of botulism that affects young foals, and it is mostly a problem in foals born to dams that were recently moved to an endemic area or that were not vaccinated during pregnancy. The disease takes its name from the muscle trembling seen in affected foals.

                                A vaccination against botulism type B is available for administration to pregnant mares; this immunization results in a high titer of anti-botulism antibodies in the colostrum and protection for the foal.

                                I rest my case....
                                Last edited by Ridge Runner; Jul. 14, 2010, 06:28 PM.


                                • #17

                                  There are seven types of botulism
                                  recognized (A, B, Ca, Cb, D, E, F, and G),
                                  based on the antigenic specificity of the
                                  toxin produced by each strain. Types
                                  A, B, E, and F cause human botulism.
                                  Types A, B, C, and D cause most cases
                                  of botulism in animals.

                                  IN HORSES, TYPE
                                  B BOTULISM is responsible for more than
                                  80% OF THE CASES.

                                  The bacterium and its spores are
                                  widely distributed in nature. They are
                                  found in soil, sediments of streams and
                                  lakes, and in the intestinal tracts of fish
                                  and mammals. The bacteria will produce
                                  toxins under conditions of decaying
                                  plants and animals.

                                  Although the incidence of the disease
                                  is low, it is of considerable concern because
                                  of its high mortality rate if not addressed
                                  and treated immediately and properly.
                                  The mid-Atlantic region of the eastern
                                  United States and especially Kentucky is
                                  where botulism is most commonly found,
                                  although the disease is reported worldwide.
                                  The spores of C. botulinum Type B
                                  can be found in the soil of most regions of
                                  the United States, although they are more
                                  frequently found in the northeastern and
                                  Appalachian regions. The western region
                                  is more abundant with C. botulinum type
                                  A, and type C occurs mainly in Florida


                                  • #18
                                    Daydream believer, you pulled out only one section, and it really does not support your argument if you read the ENTIRE article. In fact, the title/headline states how important vaccination and feed/management issues are.

                                    I would not rest my case just yet if I were you
                                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                    • #19
                                      Ok that's fine but is it affecting adult horses or foals? Are 80% of the cases found in horses Type B in foals mainly or is it also found in adults? Your information does not say what the demographics of the Type B cases are. Without the age of the horses affected, the above information isn't really telling us enough to know if it's worth using the vaccine on an adult riding horse or not.

                                      If I read that article right, Type B affects foals and that is what the vaccine was developed for.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
                                        Daydream believer, you pulled out only one section, and it really does not support your argument if you read the ENTIRE article. In fact, the title/headline states how important vaccination and feed/management issues are.

                                        I would not rest my case just yet if I were you
                                        No, I do rest my case. The ONLY vaccine available is for Type B which affects foals and is for use in broodmares. Reread the article. Obviously feed/management is important. I did not say it wasn't.