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Vaccines are preparations of killed microorganisms, living weakened microorganisms, etc. introduced into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease by causing the formation of antibodies.
Vaccines are very delicate compounds, which if handled or administered incorrectly will be ineffective or neutralized.
Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis: Encephalomyelitis is caused by a virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The vaccine is very effective against the disease.
Tetanus Toxoid: Tetanus is a disease caused by a specific toxin of a bacillus (Clostridium tetani)which usually enters the body through wounds. It is characterized by spasmodic contractions and rigidity of some or all of the voluntary muscles (especially of the jaw, face and neck). The bacteria is found in horse manure, so horses are exposed. The vaccine is very effective and administered once yearly. The vaccine is boostered in case of laceration, surgery, or pentrating wounds.
West Nile Virus: West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Horses that travel to warmer areas should be boostered 2 weeks before travelling. Veterinarians in problem areas vaccinate 2-4 x per year.
Rhinopneumonitis: Rhinopneumonitis is a herpes virus which causes respiratory infections, abortions, and inflammation of the spinal cord. The vaccine is not 100% effective and the protection only lasts 10-12 weeks. Pregnant mares should be vaccinated at 3,5, 7 and 9 months from the breeding date. Horses that are travelling to shows, races, sales, etc. should be vaccinated every 3 months. Pleasure horses that do not travel may not benefit from vaccination. The vaccine does not protect against the neurologic form of the disease.
Influenza: Influenza is a virus that causes high fever and respiratory infection. Young horses are particularly at risk. The vaccine is not 100% effective, and the protection lasts only 10-12 weeks. Horses travelling to shows, sales, racing events, etc..should be vaccinated every 3 months. Horses that do not travel may not benefit from the vaccine.
Potomac Horse Fever(PHF): Potomac Horse Fever is caused by the parasite Ehrlichia risticii. Horses are infected through small land snails that carry the parasite. It is not contagious and occurs more commonly in wet areas in the eastern US. The disease causes high fever, laminitis, and severe diarrhea. The vaccine is fairly effective and is administered once a year. It is administered 2-4 x yearly in -problem areas. We do not commonly administer the vaccine.
Strangles: Strangles is a bacterial disease caused by Streptococcus equi. It is highly contagious and causes the following signs: high fever, abscessed lymph nodes, and respiratory infection. Horses may develop guttural pouch infections, sinus infections, purpura hemorrhagica, laryngeal paralysis, and internal infections. Affected horses must be quarantined to avoid spreading the bacteria. Horses recovering from the infection may become carriers.
There is an intranasal vaccine which is more effective than the intramuscular vaccine. The vaccine is given once a year except in endemic barns (that have frequent outbreaks) where semiannual vaccination is recommended. It is important to quarantine new horses for a minimum of 2 weeks to reduce the introduction of the infection to a herd.