Vaccination

Horse Vaccines

Regular vaccination is an important part of primary care to prevent some serious and potentially life-threatening diseases and are important whether your horse competes, travels or never leaves your property. Tetanus vaccinations are strongly recommended; we can also provide advice on and administer the Strangles vaccine, Hendra, Herpes and Rotavirus vaccinations.

Tetanus

Tetanus in horses is caused by the production of toxins from a soil borne bacterium, Clostridium tetani, which can contaminate any wound. The incubation period (time for symptoms to occur) can range from 4-21 days, at which point small wounds in particular may be healed. Due to the high fatality risk of tetanus, it is therefore important that your horse is up to date with tetanus vaccination and that you do not wait for a wound to occur until it is vaccinated.

Tetanus vaccination is very effective and safe, and we strongly recommend all horses should be vaccinated against tetanus because of the widespread occurrence of the organism.

* Primary course: two injections 4 weeks apart.

* Initial booster: 12 months from the second primary injection

* Following on: Vaccination every 2 years

* Vaccinations can start after 3 months of age

* Pregnant mares should receive a booster vaccination one month prior to foaling

* Horses with an unknown vaccination history should receive their primary course again

Strangles

This disease is caused by infection with the bacteria Streptococcus equip subspecies equi (S. equip). This bacterium is highly contagious and can result in infection of horses it comes in contact with. Horses between the ages of 1-5 are most commonly affected. The disease shows a high rate of morbidity (symptoms of being sick), with a lower rate of mortality (risk of death).

Following exposure to the bacteria, the incubation period can vary from 2-6 days. Characteristically horses have a high temperature, have a nasal discharge (purulent) and present as unwell and lethargic. The bacteria migrates to the lymph nodes around the head, where abscesses can develop and may eventually burst out.

Vaccination results in a reduction of the rates and severity of the disease and requires a primary course followed by booster injections.

Vaccination results in a reduction of the rates and severity of the disease and requires a primary course followed by booster injections.

* Primary course: three injections at 2 week intervals

* Boosters: 6-12 months from the third primary injection (depending on exposure risk)

* Vaccinations can start after 3 months of age

* Pregnant mares should receive a booster vaccination one month prior to foaling

Hendra Virus

Although Hendra Virus has not yet affected any horses in Western Australia, certain fruit bat (flying fox) populations in the north of the state have been identified as being seropositive (having antibodies) to the virus. This means that at some point the horse has been exposed to the virus and therefore has the potential to transmit the disease.

Fruit bat (flying fox) populations that could act as hosts to the virus extend down the Perth Region. The species of fruit bats that act as natural hosts for Hendra in WA are the Black Flying Fox and the Little Red Flying Fox.

Our clinic has the following recommendations regarding vaccination:

* That horses be vaccinated on any properties that are exposed to fruit bats populations, especially where horses may feed/graze under trees where bats may rest.

* That any horses travelling to the east coast of Australia, particularly to Queensland and Northern NSW, undertake a full primary vaccination course prior to departure.

Hendra virus is an emerging disease that naturally occurs in flying fox populations. Transfer of the disease to horses thought to occur through contaminated urine, faeces or fetal fluids. Through close contact, horse-to-horse infection can occur as well as horse-to-human infection.

The clinical signs of Hendra virus in horses are initially vague or mild and can be mistaken for other conditions such as colic. Common clinical signs include a sudden onset in illness, increased temperature and/or heart rate, discomfort and weight shifting, depression and a rapid deterioration in clinical symptoms..

Hendra virus has a 100% mortality rate in horses; 70% of horses that have tested positive to the virus have died from the disease, however all affected horses are required to be euthanased to stem transmission. There is also a 57% mortality rate in humans for Hendra.

Vaccination protocol:

* Primary Course: Two doses given 21-42 days apart. Immunity occurs 21 days after the second dose.

* Initial Booster: 6 months following the last vaccination.

* Following on: 12 month vaccinations

* Foals can be vaccinated from 4 months old

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