Understanding equine diseases and your horse’s risk level is key to protecting his health. Vaccination is the best way to help keep your horse healthy and performing year-round.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, the leading group of equine veterinarians, breaks equine vaccinations into two categories: core and risk-based. Core vaccinations are those that every horse should receive at least annually, while risk-based vaccines are recommended for horses with individual risk profiles, depending on age, geography, housing or role.1
“When it comes to core equine diseases, it doesn’t matter if your horse travels off the farm or not – they can affect a horse that never leaves his pasture just as much as a horse that regularly travels,” says Dr. Kevin Hankins, senior equine technical services veterinarian for Zoetis. “At minimum, be sure all horses are vaccinated for the five core equine diseases.”
Core Equine Vaccinations
Annual vaccination against the following diseases is strongly recommended for all horses.
– Eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis are viral diseases that attack your horse’s nervous system. Spread by mosquitoes, the infection may lead to fever, depression, head pressing, teeth grinding, circling, blindness, seizures and death.
– Rabies is caused by a virus in the saliva of infected animals, usually transmitted through a bite. The virus travels up the nerves to the brain, where the disease progresses rapidly and is always fatal in horses. Rabies can be transmitted from horses to humans.
– Tetanus is a potentially fatal disease caused by bacteria found in the intestinal tract and feces of horses and other animals, and it is abundant in the soil. Horses can become infected through puncture wounds, open lacerations and exposed tissues.
– West Nile is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the central nervous system. Transmitted by mosquitoes, the infection can lead to fever, lethargy, weakness, blindness, tremors, difficulty walking, seizures and death.
Risk-Based Equine Vaccinations
Vaccination against the following diseases is recommended for horses with risk factors dependent on age, geography, housing or role.
– Rhinopneumonitis, caused by equine herpesvirus, affects the respiratory tract and may lead to fever, nasal discharge, lethargy, cough and neonatal death. The virus can also result in outbreaks of abortion and neurological disease.
– Equine influenza is caused by a highly contagious virus and can spread rapidly through groups of horses, such as at horse shows and events. The virus affects the respiratory tract, leading to cough, fever and nasal discharge.
– Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can lead to fever, depression, loss of appetite, blindness, abortion and kidney failure. Horses can become exposed via contact with urine from infected wildlife, unvaccinated cattle and dogs or contact with standing water.
– Strangles is a highly contagious bacterial disease that typically targets weanlings and yearlings. Signs include fever, depression, nasal discharge, cough, swollen lymph nodes and reluctance to swallow.
As each horse has a unique set of needs, a standard one-size-fits-all equine vaccination program does not exist. Put a veterinarian on your team – consult with your veterinarian to determine which diseases you should vaccinate your horse against, how often and at what time of the year. Be sure to vaccinate your horse with FLUVAC INNOVATOR® and WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® from Zoetis for the most trusted equine disease protection.
1 American Association of Equine Practitioners. Vaccination Guidelines. http://www.aaep.org/info/vaccination-guidelines. Accessed January 20, 2017.
2 Data on file, MDI sales data for WEST NILE-INNOVATOR and FLUVAC INNOVATOR as of 12/31/15, Zoetis Inc.