“Stay-At-Home” Horse Vaccines

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another question I get asked a lot is what vaccines are necessary for horses who stay at home and don’t go anywhere. You know, for the pasture pal who lives out in the field whose idea of exercise is walking up to the barn for dinner each night. Does he *really* need vaccines every year?
There are several vaccinatable diseases that are either already on your farm, or can come to your farm and “find” your horse – in other words, your horse doesn’t have to leave home to contract them. They are:

Tetanus: is caused by a toxin released by the tetanus bacteria that lives in the dirt. The toxin enters a horse’s body through a cut or puncture wound.

EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) and WEE (Western Equine Encephalitis) or “Sleeping Sickness”: carried by mosquitoes, this virus is endemic in several locations, particularly on the east coast of US. It causes neurologic disease in horses and is often fatal.

WNV (West Nile Virus) - new to the USA in the early 2000′s, this is another viral disease carried by mosquitoes. WNV also causes neuro disease.

Rabies – a virus carried by infected wildlife (racoons, foxes, opposums, bats, etc) that can enter your fields and barns and bite horses, infecting them with the virus.

The above diseases are all covered by readily available vaccines - and the vaccines on the market currently are VERY effective in stimulating immunity and protecting horses against contracting these diseases. Even if you have a “closed herd” situation, where your horses are not leaving the property and are not exposed to other horses coming and going, these are the diseases that you should still be vaccinating your horses against.