Can My Horse get a Disease?
Infectious diseases are
caused by bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and richettsea which are organisms
that invade the body of a susceptible host. These organisms can be
transferred to your horse by contact with infected urine, feces, or other body
secretions like infectious droplets in the air from a sick horse that is
coughing or blowing through his nose. There are some sexually transmitted
diseases, and some that can occur from contact with spores or bacteria in the
soil. There are also some diseases your horse can get when bitten by an
Since you will never know
when your horse might come into contact with any of these pathogenic agents, it
is important to keep your horse's vaccinations current. Your horse cannot
be protected from disease by vaccinating him after he has been exposed.
What Diseases Should I Vaccinate Against?
The most commonly occuring
diseases that we should all vaccinate our horses against are:
Eastern and Western)
West Nile Virus
There are other diseases
that may be a threat in areas where they are endemic. These are:
Potomic Horse Fever
Equine Viral Arteritis
Consult your veterinarian to
find out which vaccinations are important in your geographical area.
When Do I Vaccinate?
Horses should be vaccinated
with the full series containing Eastern/Western Encephalomyelitis,
Rhinopeumonitis, Influenza, and Tetanus in the spring. The West Nile
vaccine (only obtainable from your veterinarian) should also be given in the
spring. Horses not yet vaccinated against West Nile should get a series of
3 shots administered every 3 weeks. Horses who had West Nile vaccinations
the previous year, should get a series of 2 shots, the second one given 3 weeks
after the first. Foals whose mothers were vaccinated 30 days before
delivery should receive a West Nile vaccination at 4 months, with 2 more
boosters at 3 week intervals. Foals whose mothers were not vaccinated,
should start their series at 1 month of age. But please consult your
veterinarian to insure the timing is right for your particular foal.
If you live in an area where
you do not get freezing temperatures, you should consult your veterinarian to
find out if it is recommended to boost for West Nile again in the fall.
If you have a pregnant mare,
she should have Rhino boosters at 5, 7, and 9 months gestation, and also have
her full series including West Nile 30 days before she is due to foal. Be
sure to consult your veterinarian and ask if there are other diseases that are
endemic in your area she should be vaccinated against.
The diseases in the second
list above starting with Rabies are usually vaccinated against once a year in
geographical areas where they commonly occur. Exceptions would be pregnant
mares. I would advise you to consult your veterinarian to make sure you
know which diseases you should vaccinate your horse against, and how often you
NOTE: Always consult with your veterinarian.
For more information:
[PDF] Equine Vaccination Programs
and Guidelines for the Vaccination of Horses