Vaccination of horses has become a hot topic among equine veterinarians and owners. There is not one vaccination program that is appropriate for every horse, every time. The horse's immune system is not the same as ours. Therefore, we vaccinate yearly and sometimes more often, as discussed below.
Of course our primary interest is focused on what is best for our patients as far as balancing benefits and risks of vaccination. For the large majority of our patients, side-effects from vaccination are very rare. We are able to give all spring shots on one day with little to no negative effects reported.
The following guidelines have been developed through years of experience, as well as through information and consensus reported from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). The vaccines will be listed starting from what we consider core vaccines to what we see as more elective vaccines. These are recommendations for healthy adult horses who have been vaccinated appropriately in the past. If we have a patient with unknown vaccination history, or a new foal or pregnant mare, these guidelines differ significantly. We will coordinate a specific program for your individual horse based on their age, overall health, and risk factors.
Equine Vaccination Guideline
· Although rabies is infrequent in horses, it is a significant risk to people and is 100% fatal. It is therefore considered a core vaccine.
· Vaccine Schedule: Annual booster.
· Tetanus is a progressive and often fatal disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which is ubiquitous in the environment.
· The disease is caused by a neurotoxin that is produced when the bacteria infects wounds (especially puncture wounds and deep lacerations).
· It causes progressive stiff paralysis that can be fatal if not treated.
· While the disease is not contagious among horses or people, horses are very sensitive to the neurotoxin and therefore tetanus is considered a core vaccine.
· Vaccine Schedule: Annually or at the time of a wound or surgery.
3. Eastern equine encephalitis/western equine encephalitis (EEE/WEE):
· These are neurologic diseases that cause a range of symptoms in horses and people including fever, lethargy, recumbency, seizures, mental dullness and death.
· They are transmitted by mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects from birds and rodents to horses or humans.
· They are NOT contagious from horse to horse, human to human or horse to human.
· The Northeast is considered endemic for these diseases and there have been deaths in horses in the recent past confirmed caused by EEE.
· The vaccines available are highly efficacious and very safe.
· Vaccine schedule: Annually