What do we vaccinate horses for?

by Station House Vets
Published: Updated:

By Amelia McArthur BVSc, MRCVS, Station House Vets

The two main diseases we vaccinate for are tetanus and influenza.

Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil and droppings (not just rusty nails!). Even a small scratch risks infection and we strongly recommend that every horse is vaccinated for tetanus, as contracting the disease is usually fatal. Prevention against tetanus requires vaccination which can be done in a combined vaccine or on its own.

Equine influenza (EI) is a strain of the flu virus that is endemic in the equine population. It is highly contagious but can only spread between equines (i.e. horse to horse or horse to donkey). The virus spreads by contact between individuals, on fomites such as clothing, rugs and tack and can become airborne (via water droplets) spreading surprising distances. Symptoms of EI include cough, nasal discharge, pyrexia (high temperature) and lethargy. Most horses recover from EI but recovery time can by lengthy.

Very young and very old horses are more likely to suffer from life-threatening infection of EI or secondary bacterial infections. The EI vaccination should protect against symptoms in most cases and when it does not give full protection, it is designed to be effective in reducing the symptoms and spread of the virus.

Other things we vaccinate for commonly are strangles (Streptococcus equi equi) and equine herpes virus (EHV). The new strangles vaccination is very exciting as, unlike the older vaccine, can be given into muscle. Like the EI vaccine, it should give protection against strangles, however should the individual contract the disease (due to a high infective dose) it should vastly reduce the symptoms and spread. This vaccine also does not cause a false positive result on blood sampling. EHV vaccination is more commonly done in young/competition horses and pregnant mares.

Keeping your vaccinations up to date

Our system records each time your horse has their vaccinations, when done by us, so we can send you a reminder. Our equine team will also contact you in advance, particularly if we are going to be in your area.

Visit www.stationhousevets.co.uk to find out more about the full range of equine services we offer at Station House Vets. You can also register your horse online, or give the team a call on 01653 618303.

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