EQUINE EXAMS & VACCINATIONS

Equine companions are athletes whether they are used for competition, racing, performance, driving, or trail riding. Our goal to keeping your horse, mule, or donkey healthy is to recommend the latest in preventative care. It is usually cheaper and easier to prevent diseases than to treat them, and many diseases that can be prevented can lead to lifelong problems for your equid. Annual examinations are important for identifying problems early which could impair your equid’s performance. At these exams, we will provide recommendations for you to optimize your equid’s health including vaccinations, deworming protocols, dental exams, and dietary recommendations. We offer equid exams both on the farm and at our clinic for your convenience. Please be aware that we do not currently have an indoor haul-in facility for equid exams, so keep the weather in mind when scheduling examinations at the clinic.

 

Equine Vaccinations

 

The following information is based on the recommendations of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and is intended to be informational. Please consult with a veterinarian regarding the optimal vaccine schedule for your horse before administering any vaccines.

 

  • Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis: EEE and WEE is transmitted by mosquitoes to horses from wild birds and rodents. The virus causes inflammation and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Signs of EEE and WEE include fever, loss of appetite, depression, involuntary muscle movements, hypersensitivity, impaired vision, behavioral changes, muscle weakness, paralysis, and convulsions. The mortality rate of WEE is about 50% while the mortality rate of EEE approaches 90%.

    • Adult horses (previously vaccinated) should receive annual vaccination in the spring, prior to mosquito season.

    • Adult horses (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses, 4-6 weeks apart, followed by annual vaccination in the spring, prior to mosquito season.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks prior to foaling.

    • Pregnant mares (previously unvaccinated)  should immediately receive 2 doses 4-6 weeks apart followed by vaccination 4-6 weeks prior to foaling or prior to mosquito season, whichever comes first.

    • Foals of vaccinated mares should receive 3 doses, the first at 4-6 months of age, the second 4-6 weeks after the first dose, and the third at 10-12 months of age but prior to the start of mosquito season.

    • Foals of unvaccinated mares should receive 3 doses, the first at 3-4 months of age, the second 4 weeks after the first dose, and the third dose 8 weeks after the second.

 

  • Tetanus: All horses are susceptible to tetanus, which is often a fatal disease. Tetanus is caused by a toxin produced by the Clostridium tetani bacteria, which is found in soil as well as the intestinal tracts of horses, humans, and other animals. Tetanus often occurs following a puncture wound, laceration, or after foaling when the bacterium contaminates the wound, umbilicus, or uterus. Signs of tetanus include progressively worsening stiffness and spasms, protrusion of the third eyelid, sweating, and convulsions.

    • Adult horses (previously vaccinated) should receive annual vaccination with tetanus toxoid.

    • Adult horses (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses, 4-6 weeks apart of a tetanus toxoid followed by annual vaccination.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks prior to foaling with a tetanus toxoid.

    • Pregnant mares (previously unvaccinated) should immediately receive 2 doses of tetanus toxoid, 4-6 weeks apart followed by vaccination 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Foals of vaccinated mares should receive 3 doses of a tetanus toxoid, the first at 4-6 months of age, the second 4-6 weeks after the first, and the third at 10-12 months of age.

    • Foals of unvaccinated mares should receive tetanus antitoxin at birth. Then they should receive 3 doses of tetanus toxoid, the first at 3-4 months of age, the second 4-6 weeks after the first, and the third at 10-12 months of age.

    • Horses that are wounded 6 months or more after their last vaccination should be vaccinated at the time of the injury.

 

  • West Nile Virus: WNV is found throughout the continental US and is transmitted to horses by mosquitoes. Signs are related to inflammation of the brain including lack of coordination, depression, anorexia, weakness, falling, twitching, wandering, hypersensitivity, appearing to have colic, convulsions, and paralysis. The mortality rate of WNV is about 33%; however, even after recovery about 40% of horses still show signs, such as gate and behavioral changes, for up to 6 months.

    • Adult horses (previously vaccinated) should receive annual vaccination in the spring, prior to mosquito season.

    • Adult horses (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses, 4-6 weeks apart, followed by annual vaccination in the spring, prior to mosquito season.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Pregnant mares (previously unvaccinated) should immediately receive 2 doses, 4 weeks apart, followed by vaccination 4-6 weeks before foaling or prior to mosquito season, whichever comes first.

    • Foals of vaccinated mares should receive 3 doses, the first at 4-6 months of age, the second 4-6 weeks after the first, and the third at 10-12 months of age but prior to the start of mosquito season.

    • Foals of unvaccinated mares should receive 3 doses, the first at 3-4 months of age, the second 4 weeks after the first dose, and the third 8 weeks after the second.

 

  • Rabies: The state of Indiana requires that all horses that will participate in 4-H activities be vaccinated for rabies. Rabies is a fatal virus that is transmitted through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Rabies can be carried by bats, opossums, raccoons,  coyotes, foxes, dogs, and cats. Although infection with rabies in horses is rare, it has considerable public health significance as it can be transmitted to people.  It is recommended that all horses be vaccinated for rabies.

    • Adult horses should be vaccinated annually.

    • Pregnant mares should receive a vaccine prior to breeding or 4-6 weeks prior to foaling.

    • Foals of vaccinated mares should receive 1 dose at 6 months of age followed by annual vaccination.

    • Foals of unvaccinated mares should receive 1 dose at 3-4 months of age followed by annual vaccination.

 

  • Equine Herpes Virus: Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) cause respiratory disease that can range from mild to severe. Signs include fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, cough, and swelling of the mandibular lymph nodes. Infection typically first occurs in foals within the first few weeks or months of life; however, recurrent infections can be seen in weanlings, yearlings, and young horses. EHV-1 can also cause abortion in mares, the birth of weak foals, and neurologic disease.

    • Adult non-breeding horses do not need to be vaccinated after 5 years of age unless they are considered to be at a high risk of exposure. Please talk to your vet if you are concerned your horse may be at risk.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated in the fifth, seventh, and ninth months of gestation using an inactivated vaccine with a label to prevent abortion.

    • Mares for breeding (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses prior to breeding with a 4-6 week interval between doses. Then they should be vaccinated in the fifth, seventh, and ninth months of gestation using an inactivated vaccine with a label to prevent abortion.

    • Stallions for breeding should be vaccinated prior to the breeding season and then at six-month intervals.

    • Foals should receive 3 doses, the first at 4-6 months of age, the second 4-6 weeks after the first, and the third at 10-12 months of age.

    • Yearlings and horses under 5 years of age should receive a vaccine every 6 months.

 

  • Equine Influenza: Equine influenza (EIV) is present throughout the United States. Younger horses (1-5 years) are more susceptible to infection as well as those that go to shows or other equine events. EIV causes respiratory disease with a range in severity of signs including depression, loss of appetite, high fever, frequent harsh, dry cough, nasal and ocular discharge, enlarged mandibular lymph nodes, and lower leg edema.

    • Adult horses (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated every 6 months if they are frequently taken to shows or other equine events. Adult horses that do not frequent these locations can be vaccinated on an annual basis if needed.

    • Adult horses (previously unvaccinated) should receive a single dose of a modified live vaccine or 3 doses of an inactivated vaccine with the second dose being 3-4 weeks after the first and the third dose being 3-6 months after the second.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Pregnant mares (previously unvaccinated) should be given a 3 dose series of an inactivated vaccine with the second dose being given 4-6 weeks after the first and the third dose given 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Foals should be vaccinated with 2 doses of a modified live vaccine with the first dose at 6-7 months of age and the second at 11-12 months of  age or 3 doses of an inactivated vaccine with the first dose given at 6 month of age, the second given 4-6 weeks after the first, and the third given between 10-12 months of age.

  • Potomac Horse Fever: PHF is caused by a bacteria called Neorickettsia risticii.  Horses that are pastured near creeks or rivers appear to be at greater risk for contracting the disease. The disease is most common from late spring to early fall particularly July through September. Signs of PHF include fever, mild to severe diarrhea, mild colic, laminitis, decreased abdominal sounds. On rare occasion, pregnant mares that developed PHF aborted their fetuses at about 7 months of gestation.

    • Adult horses (previously vaccinated) should receive annual vaccination in the spring.

    • Adult horses (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses in the spring with 3-4 weeks between doses.

    • Pregnant mares (previously vaccinated) should be vaccinated 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Pregnant mares (previously unvaccinated) should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart such that the second dose will be given 4-6 weeks before foaling.

    • Foals that are 5 months of age and older should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart.

 

  • Strangles: Strangles is caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus equi equi that most commonly affects weanlings and yearlings, but can affect horses of any age. Horses that reside on farms where strangles infections have occurred or horses that travel to shows and other equine events should be vaccinated. Clinical signs include fever, difficulty eating, decreased appetite, harsh breathing, swollen lymph nodes, and copious nasal discharge. In rare cases, infected horses can develop pupura hemorrhagica which is an immune-mediated reaction. Signs of this syndrome include edema of the limbs, abdomen and head, subcutaneous hemorrhaging, and sloughing of affected tissues. This condition can be life threatening when it occurs.

    • Adult horses should  be vaccinated if they are at risk of contracting strangles and can be vaccinated every 6-12 months based on the label directions.

    • Pregnant mares should only be vaccinated with products labeled for use in pregnant mares. They should receive a dose 4-6 weeks prior to foaling.

    • Foals should receive 2 doses of a modified live vaccine intranasally starting at 6-9 months of age with 3 weeks between doses.

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