As we enter the New Year many of my horse clients are making plans for the spring. This is the time of year to start thinking about vaccinating, don’t wait. Remember vaccines do not provide immediate protection, some require four to six weeks for protective immunity. If you are planning on moving your horse out of state for any reason do not wait until the last minute for your EIA (Coggin’s) test.
I am a firm believer in prevention. I vaccinate for everything. Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis are neurological disease that may result in the death of the horse; if the horse survives it may have long-term neurological deficits. Both Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis can affect man. Tetanus is a disease caused by Clostridial organism. Like tetanus in man it usually occurs following injury or surgery to the animal. Influenza which is commonly called the flu, results in high fever, anorexia and depression. This usually last for two to 10 days if the case is uncomplicated; however, horses with severe infections may be unable to compete for 50 to 100 days. Rhinopneumonitis can be seen in two forms; respiratory, neurological form and abortion form. West Nile is viral encephalitis that exhibits ataxia, fever, muscle fasciculation, blindness, teeth grinding and a recumbent patient. Mortality rates as high as 25 percent have been reported, West Nile can also affect humans. Strangles is a bacterial disease sometimes called distemper in horses. When abscess are draining they can infect the environment and other equine. Rabies is a neurological disease that results in death of the horse; it can be spread to humans. Signs can vary from ataxia to sudden death. This is for the horses on the road and exposed to everything.
Do all horses need all of these? Probably not. I feel the minimum is Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, tetanus, influenza, and West Nile in our area. Rabies is a vaccine that you and your vet should decide if you need. Discuss the use of vaccines with your veterinarian. Knowing what you want to do with your horse and where you are going with it will determine what the animal should be vaccinated against. If you are traveling outside our region, check the diseases in the area you are going to, this may change what you vaccinate against. Most importantly remember to give the vaccine time to stimulate the immune system to provide protection.
Do not forget your Coggin’s test. Every year I have clients who forget to have the test done. Remember to check with your vet about your state of destination. Some states now require a six month Coggins test. I try to Coggins test around the first of the year and the fourth of July. These are easy dates to remember and ensure always having a current Coggins test in hand.
Remember is you are going out of state health papers are required. Some states recognize a 30-day paper, but some are now only 15 days. Always check to make sure you are within the law.
Frankie Bowers, DVM, MS practices at Animal Clinic of the Ozarks in Ozark, Mo.