We strongly recommend that all horses are vaccinated against Influenza and Tetanus. It is also advisable for mares in stud and horses who regularly travel to events to be also vaccinated agains Equine Herpes Virus. Vaccination forms an extremely important part of infectious disease control programmes in horses. The aims of vaccination are to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks of infectious disease occurring; to limit the extent of outbreaks when they do occur; and to reduce the severity of disease in individual horses.
It is essential that as much of the UK equine population as possible is fully vaccinated against Equine Influenza. It is a common misconception that only those animals competing in various disciplines require vaccination. However, it is well established that partially vaccinated healthy horses can carry influenza back to susceptible unvaccinated animals and an influenza outbreak may then occur (as it was the case in several outbreaks recorded in the UK in past few years). ! Recent survey of UK population revealed that only 35% of horses were vaccinated, and this recent drop in vaccination makes the UK horse population increasingly vulnerable to an epidemic.
The disease symptoms in non immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge and, in cases where secondary bacteria are involved, bronchitis and pneumonia can result. Young foals and elderly animals, particularly those with pre-existing lung disease, can suffer fatal pneumonias.
Modern ‘flu’ vaccines are very safe, rarely have any side effects, and are easily administered by injection into the neck or pectoral muscles. East Kent Equine recommends that ALL (young or old, pet or competition) horses are vaccinated against influenza.
The primary vaccination course consists of 3 injections with 4-6 weeks between the first and second injection, and 5-6 months between the second and third. Boosters are given annually. All horses competing in FEI competitions require a flu vaccination within six months + 21 days of the competitions and no vaccination shall be given within 7 days of the day of arrival at the FEI event.
Pregnant mares should be fully vaccinated and boosted with influenza (and tetanus) 4-6 weeks pre-foaling to ensure that the young foal can be protected through maternally derived antibodies in colostrum.
All horses, ponies and donkeys should be vaccinated against Tetanus as an absolute minimum - the vaccine is safe, easily administered and 100% effective in preventing what is a serious and often life threatening condition, which can be distressing for the horse and very expensive to treat. The primary vaccination consists of 2 injections 4-6 weeks apart. A third vaccination should be given 12 months later followed by boosters every 2 years. Tetanus can be given as a combined injection with Influenza.
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV)
Infection with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) can cause a variety of signs, depending on which strain of the virus is causing the infection. Vaccination is possible against strains 1 and 4, which can cause performance limiting respiratory disease and abortion. The primary vaccination course consists of two doses given 4-6 weeks apart followed by 6 monthly boosters. Pregnant mares should also be vaccinated against EHV in the 5th, 7th and 9th months of pregnancy to protect against abortion.
It is also possible to vaccinate against West Nile Virus, Rotavirus in pregnant mares to boost the immunity of foals, and Equine Viral Arteritis in breeding stallions. If you require any further information about vaccination, please contact us on 01304 364648.