This week is equine flu awareness week.
– a dry, harsh cough
– a clear, watery nasal discharge
– loss of appetite
1st vaccination should be given around 5-6 months old
2nd vaccination to be given around 4-6 weeks later
3rd vaccination to be given 5-6 months later
Booster vaccinations must be given within 365 days of the 1st vaccination to avoid a re-start
What if my horse competes?
If your horse competes you will need to check with the relevant authority as some bodies (FEI, BD, BE, BS) require more regular 6 monthly boosters.
What do we vaccinate horses for?
The two main diseases we vaccinate for are tetanus and influenza.
Tetanus is caused by bacteria that is found in soil and droppings (not just rusty nails!). Even a small scratch risks infection with the bacteria. 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 (ie. Horse to horse or horse to donkey). The virus spreads from contact between individuals, on fomites such as clothing, rugs and tack and it can become airborne (via water droplets) and spread surprising distances. Symptoms of EI include cough, nasal discharge, pyrexia (high temperature) and lethargy. Most horses recover from EI but recovery can take a long time. 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 when it does not give full protection it is designed to be effective in reducing the symptoms and spread of the virus. EI vaccination is given either in a combined vaccine with tetanus or alone when tetanus booster isn’t required.
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 the muscle. It works like the EI vaccine that 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 (unlike the old vaccine). EHV vaccination is more commonly done in young/competition horses and pregnant mares.