Vaccines & The Diseases They Protect Against

Vaccinations are an important tool in maintaining the health of your horse.  Following is a list of vaccines that we at Tacoma Equine recommend to our clients, as well as a brief description of the diseases that protect against.  Vaccination schedules differ depending on many factors, including age, activity, living situation, and vaccine history.  We look forward to working with you to tailor a schedule to your horse’s needs.

 

Core vaccines

 

All horses should receive these vaccines, regardless of living situation, as they are all at risk of exposure to these environmental diseases.

 

Tetanus

 

A disease caused by toxin-producing bacteria that is commonly found in soil and the intestinal tract of many animals, horses are exposed via wounds, lacerations and foot abscesses.  Tetanus causes rigid paralysis and more than 80% of horses that contract it die.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually

 

Eastern & Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE)

 

Also known as “Sleeping Sickness,” EEE/WEE are viruses that are spread via infected mosquitoes and cause neurological disease in the horse.  Symptoms usually begin with fever and depression, and progress to a flaccid paralysis due to severe inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.  The death rate is anywhere from 50% to 90% depending on the viral strain.  Humans can also be affected when bitten by the mosquito.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually in the spring before the mosquitoes become active

 

West Nile Virus (WNV)

 

This is a neurological disease that is spread via infected mosquitoes and birds.  Symptoms may include incoordination, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, depression, convulsions, fever, coma, and death due to severe inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.  The fatality rate is approximately 33% in horses exhibiting clinical signs; however horses surviving acute illness may still exhibit residual neurologic deficits.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually in the spring before the mosquitoes become active

 

Rabies

 

A neurologic disease spread by the bite of an infected animal, most commonly the bat in the Puget Sound area.  Rabies is uncommon in the horse but once contracted, it is always fatal.  If infected, your horse can spread rabies to you through its saliva.  Symptoms of an infected animal are similar to other neurological diseases, progressing from depression and stupor to recumbency, seizures, and death all within a very short period of time. 

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually

 

 

Risk-Based Vaccines

 

These vaccines are administered based on how likely the horse is to be exposed to the disease it prevents.

 

Influenza (Flu)

 

Very similar to the human flu, this is a viral respiratory disease where fever, nasal discharge, and cough are the hallmark clinical signs.  It is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing, or by shared tack, buckets, brushes, etc., and is therefore more common in horses stabled close together or in training with other horses.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Boosters should be given up to four times per year depending on the horse’s exposure risk

 

Rhinopneumonitis (Rhino)

 

This is a viral disease caused by either equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) or equine herpesvirus 4 (EHV-4), and has three different presentations.  Most commonly it appears as a respiratory disease similar to the flu.  Secondly, it can cause late term abortion in pregnant mares.  The least common presentation is a neurologic form that starts with fever and depression, and can progress rapidly from weakness and unsteadiness to total paralysis.  Like Influenza, this virus is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing or by shared tack, buckets, brushes, etc., and is therefore more common in horses stabled close together or in training with other horses.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Boosters should be given up to four times per year depending on the horse’s exposure risk

 

**Pregnant mares should be vaccinated with a specific Rhino vaccine at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th month of pregnancy to help prevent abortion if she is exposed to the virus.

    

Strangles

 

This is a bacterial disease caused by Streptococcus equi that results in abscesses in the lymph nodes, most commonly in the throat region.  Other symptoms include a high fever, loss of appetite, and nasal discharge.  In some instances, horses develop a condition called “Bastard Strangles,” which is when they form internal abscesses in hard to find places like the abdomen.  Like Flu and Rhino, this disease is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing or by shared tack, buckets, brushes, etc., and is therefore more common in horses stabled close together or in training with other horses.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually in the spring

 

Potomac Horse Fever (PHF)

 

Also called Equine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis, the causative organism, Neorickettsia risticii, can be ingested by horses drinking from rivers or streams containing infected fluke larvae or by exposure to pastures, hay, feed, bedding or other surfaces that have been infected by aquatic insects that have ingested the infected fluke larvae.  PHF can show many different clinical signs, most commonly fever, depression, and loss of appetite.  The hallmark of PHF is severe diarrhea, which occurs in 80% of cases.  Treatment is very effective if started early in the disease.  Up to 80% of PHF cases eventually die, a portion of these due to laminitis.  PHF is uncommon on the West Coast but has occurred.

 

Vaccine Protocol: Annually in the spring or early summer

 

 

A Few Notes:

 

  • All vaccines, with the exception of Rabies, must be given in an initial two shot series to horses that are previously unvaccinated or have an unknown vaccine history.
     

  • Foals and pregnant mares have specific vaccine requirements and schedules that must be followed.
     

  • While some vaccines aren’t 100% effective at preventing the disease they are being given for, they will greatly reduce the duration of illness and symptoms and allow your horse to return to normal activity more quickly than if they were not vaccinated, and usually at a lower treatment cost.
     

  • Most vaccine companies offer a vaccine guarantee for some of their vaccines when administered by a veterinarian.

 

Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best vaccine plan for your horse!

 

Click here to view the official American Association of Equine Practitioners vaccination guidelines.

OFFICE HOURS

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Monday thru Friday

 

Our office opens at 10 am every other Wednesday for team meetings

 

Emergency Service 24/7

CONTACT

Tel:  253-535-6999

Email: info@tacomaequine.com
 

3112 156th Street East

Tacoma, Washington 98446

© 2018 by Tacoma Equine Hospital

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