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Equine Vet
Equine Vet, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 206
Experience:  I have worked with many types of horses, from racing Thoroughbreds to Grand Prix jumpers.
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Can you tell me why they use horse serum to treat rattlesnake

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Can you tell me why they use horse serum to treat rattlesnake bites?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Equine Vet replied 7 years ago.
The antivenin that is used to treat rattlesnake bites in humans is made from serum from horses that have been made immune to the venom. This is done by injecting the horses with gradually larger doses of the venom so that they develop an immunity over time (and don't die from a large single dose!). The horse develops an immunity to all the components in the venom, not just the toxins. The antibody response is transferred to the human when he or she is treated, so that the venom is counteracted. People that are treated with the serum have a risk of anaphylactic shock if they are ever re-treated, as they develop antibodies to the horse serum itself at the first treatment, so there have been some studies to try to find a better animal to produce the antivenin. The reason it isn't made from humans is that no human would want to be injected with rattlesnake venom (potentially fatal) in order to produce antivenin for the market, so horses are good candidates, especially as they are large and have a good supply of blood from which to draw. Up to 10 liters of blood can be removed from an average sized horse at one blood draw. That's the long answer to the short question! Hope that helps, please let me know if there is something I can clarify.

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