Horse serum has been used to manufacture numerous important antitoxins, which offer short term protection to human patients after they have already contracted an illness or disease. Horse serum, however, is not normally used to prepare toxoids, which are the main part of a vaccine. Horse serum unfortunately contains proteins foreign to the human body, which can cause severe hypersensitivity reactions.
Horse antibodies have been shown to prevent death from the H5N1 influenza (bird flu virus). Horse serum has been used in treatments against this disease in human patients.
Equine Anti-Tetanus Toxoid Serum
Equine anti-tetanus toxoid serum has been developed from horse serum as a vaccine against tetanus in human patients. This serum has been used for years, but as it causes adverse effects in five to six per cent of patients, scientists are looking for other treatments to replace it.
Trivalent equine antitoxin is held by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention for use in human botulism cases. Trivalent antitoxin is derived from whole horse antibodies.
Specific equine IgG has been used in the treatment of botulism that was contracted through food borne sources and from wounds.
Horse antibodies were used to manufacture an antitoxin against Diptheria, a highly contagious respiratory illness that causes fever and throat infections in humans. Early administration of this antitoxin has proved to be an effective treatment for Diptheria.
Equine Anti-rabies Immunoglobulin (ERIG)
This anti-rabies product is obtained from horses after first immunising the animals with purified rabies vaccine for 105 days, after which their blood is drawn to manufacture the anti-rabies serum.