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Vaccination is a vital part of horse ownership. As vets we are faced with an increasing number of vaccinations on the market, and as owners you are faced with more choices when it comes to the vaccination of your horses. What follows are some brief reminders as well as some new information.
An essential - unlike other diseases which we vaccinate against, tetanus
does not require contact with other horses. In fact, the bacterium (Clostridium
tetani) which causes tetanus, lives in the soil - especially where there
is a lot of manure. As such, most horses are exposed. The organism gains
entry when the skin barrier is breached, most commonly in puncture wounds,
but sometimes the point of entry can be more subtle than an obvious wound.
I am sure that you are all aware of the classic ‘lock jaw’
appearance of a horse with tetanus and of the limited success and large
expense of treatment. We would all like to believe that tetanus is a disease
confined to historical vet books, but three horses in our practice have
died of tetanus over the past year. It should also be noted that insurance
companies do not pay out for the treatment of tetanus because they view
it as part of normal management.
Influenza infection results in a cough, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy
and unwillingness to eat. Spread occurs through the aerosol produced by
coughing individuals. All ages are susceptible to this virus although
it is most common in young (2-3 years) unvaccinated horses. Vaccination
against ‘flu is often a requirement for entry into livery yards
The herpes virus is responsible for three syndromes in the horse:
The virus is spread via aerosol inhalation i.e. in the air. Protection
is available in the form of a vaccination, the timing of which is determined
by the syndrome being guarded against. Where the concern is mainly respiratory,
there is a vaccination which combines ‘flu and herpes (Equillus
Resequin) which is both effective and economic. It has been shown that
the maximal protection against herpes abortion has been to vaccinate in
mid to late pregnancy.
Mares and Foals
The greatest immunity is passed on to a foal from a mare if she is vaccinated 1-3 months before foaling. Herpes, flu and tetanus are all licensed for use in the pregnant mare. Then the foal can begin the primary course of vaccinations at 5-6 months.
If the mare has not been vaccinated, the mare and foal should receive a tetanus antitoxin injection within 24hrs of foaling . The foal can begin its tetanus vaccine course at 6 weeks of age and its ‘flu course from 3 months.
The material contained in this website is presented for information purposes only . The material is in no way intended to replace professional veterinary care or attention from a professional veterinary surgeon.
The advice given in any of our web pages cannot be used as the basis for a diagnosis or choice of treatment.
Clyde Vet Group advises that you should always consult a veterinary surgeon about any queries with animals under your care.
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