Like children, horses need core vaccinations
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – Usually, horse immunizations begin when the animal reaches four to six months of age, said Veterinarian Kira Kautz at an extension equine conference.
The core vaccines every horse should get include both eastern and western encephalomyelitis, rhinopneumonitis, influenza, tetanus and rabies, Kautz said.
There are also vaccines given on the basis of risk, whether that be a population risk, a disease that’s prevalent in a given region or a risk associated with the ways in which the horse will be used. These vaccinations are indicated when a horse is likely to be exposed to that disease if its traveling. The way the animal is housed can play a role in those decisions.
During the show and rodeo seasons, respiratory diseases such as strangles, rhino and influenza become more prevalent, Kautz said.
As mosquitoes begin to hatch in the spring, the neurological diseases like encephalitis become more common. The West Nile Virus vaccine was released in 2000 when the outbreak occurred in Nebraska. Since then, the vaccine has been improved and modified.
Research shows that immunity from vaccines remains short term; so horses require boosters, generally on an annual basis, although some are semi-annual. Reactions can include swelling, fever, abscess or loss of appetite, Kautz said.
Although there are no vaccines for parasites, a good management program would include de-worming on a regular basis, Kautz said. That’s especially true when a high number of animals are confined to a small area, if they’re eating off dirt rather than grass or a feeder. If they’re exposed to numerous horses at different times of the year, they may be more susceptible to parasites and may need more frequent de-worming. External signs of a parasite problem include poor hair coat or poor body condition.
With proper immunization and parasite management, horses can lead largely disease-free lives, Kautz said.
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.