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U.S.A.: Horse Vaccinations
Posted on Saturday, December 10 @ 18:22:04 MST by iljiana

Horse Tips and Suggestions There are a number of infectious diseases that can infect your horse and cause illness, abortion, or even death. Vaccinating your horse against these diseases is another way of helping to insure his or her good health. Since vaccinations need to be kept current to be effective, it is important for you to know when to vaccinate and what diseases you should be vaccinating against.

How 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 infected mosquito.

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:


Encephalomyelitis (both Eastern and Western)








West Nile Virus

There are other diseases that may be a threat in areas where they are endemic. These are:






Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis




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 should vaccinate.

NOTE: Always consult with your veterinarian.

For more information:

[PDF] Equine Vaccination Programs
and Guidelines for the Vaccination of Horses

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