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Antitoxin or Toxoid? PDF Print E-mail

ANTITOXIN OR TOXIOD?

The difference between antitoxin and toxoid can be very confusing. Both are used to protect our goats. But they are very different in their usage. One (toxoid) is used for long team protection. And the other (antitoxin) is used for immediate, short term protection.

Clostridia are a group of bacteria that includes the organisms that cause tetanus and enterotoxemia. They are large bacteria that produce powerful toxins. These toxins are the cause of the symptoms. Clostridia are anaerobes - they colonate and grow in the absence of oxygen on damaged, poorly oxygenated tissue and dead plant material. The toxins they produce attack organs and systems far from the site of the bacteria.

Giving an injection of antitoxin is similar to infusing the animal with antibodies to the toxin. As long as these antibodies persist in the body, the animal is protected against the toxin. Tetanus antitoxin is the most familiar. It is given to animals with no protection (such as kids from unvaccinated does) and to boost immunity in protected animals at dehorning, castration, or after injury. j The protection is immediate but short-lived (2 weeks). Enterotoxemia antitoxin is used mainly to treat animals diagnosed with the disease. Extremely large doses of antitoxin are used to treat animals that have already contracted the disease. Antitoxin ties up the toxin produced by the bacteria.

Toxoid, on the other hand, is used to stimulate the animal's body to produce it's own antibodies (antitoxin) to the specific toxin. This can take several days but will last for several months. Tetanus toxoid and enterotoxemia toxoid are used as part of a routine vaccination schedule. The vaccination causes the animal to produce its own antibodies to the tetanus toxin or enterotoxemia toxin so that animal is protected. Toxoid does no good in the face of active symptoms of disease.

Tetanus toxoid and tetanus antitoxin can be given at the same time. This produces the immediate protection an unvaccinated animal needs and the long term protection it needs for the future. If there is an injury and the animal has not been vaccinated for several months, go ahead and give both the toxoid for lasting protection and the antitoxin for immediate protection.

-----By Dr. Kay Orlando, DVM (Reprinted from WPGC Newsletter, July/August 1999)

 

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