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22 Jan Equine Vaccine Recommendations

Each year we base our equine vaccine recommendations published by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). They recommend a group of CORE vaccines which are appropriate for ALL horses, regardless of their location, profession, use and lifestyle. The Core vaccine recommendations are also for diseases which are predominately fatal.

This year we are pleased to provide a new combination vaccine which contains five of the recommended core vaccines (Rabies, EEE, WEE, tetanus and West Nile) in a single highly effective injection. Although it is newly released, it has been tested in large trials to be 99.7% reaction-free due to a new purification process.

Zoetis is so confident in their vaccines they provide an Equine Immunization Support Guarantee. This ensures that if a horse who was VACCINATED with a ZOETIS vaccine by your VETERINARIAN exhibits clinical signs of a disease for which it was vaccinated, they will cover the cost of diagnostics and therapies for that disease up to $5000. This is the highest guarantee offered in the industry.

The Core diseases are commonly discussed and widely believed to be essential for horses residing in the Northeast. We would like to take a few minutes to discuss some of the other Risk Based vaccines which are available and may or may not be appropriate for your horse’s situation. Please feel free to ask prior to your appointment (or at your appointment) if you believe any additional vaccines might be recommended.

Botulism – has been observed in horses from a spore forming bacteria resulting from ingestion of the toxin in improperly preserved hay/haylage/baleage or small animal remains baled into feed (snake, mouse). There is another form seen in foals in the Midwest. Many breeders who are foaling/shipping young foals to areas such as Kentucky need to consider vaccination prior to their travel to those areas.

Equine Herpesvirus Types 1&4 (EHV/ Rhino)

affect many different organ systems. Types 1 and 4 generally infect respiratory tract causing mild to severe respiratory disease, fever, cough, etc. Type 1 is known to be responsible for outbreaks of abortions in mares and the birth of weak, non-viable foals, as well as the neurologic form which has been commonly in the equine news the past few years. Both types spread through nasal secretions and rely on asymptomatic carriers for spread. Young horses and performance horses who are brought together in large groups have the highest risk of exposure. Most performance events require vaccination at least 14d prior to the event and not more than 90 days prior.

Equine influenza (Flu)

is the most common infectious respiratory disease in horses. Outbreaks result from the introduction of an infected horse. Young horses are by far the most susceptible, along with horses who are mingled (performance horses, sale barns, etc.). As in the human form, equine influenza is highly contagious and the virus spreads rapidly in aerosolized droplets dispensed by coughing.

Potomac Horse Fever

seasonal disease occurring between late spring and fall. Clinical signs include fever, diarrhea, colic, with potential for serious complications (laminitis, toxemia, etc.). Vaccination is controversial as vaccinated horses can become infected, although they tend to have a milder and more treatable form of the disease. There is spotty concern about PHF in this area. We see cases annually from the Sidney/Greene area, as well as the northern part of our practice area along Route 5 (Clinton, Oneida, Vernon).


highly contagious disease affecting horses of any age. Transmitted by direct contact with infected horses or sub-clinical shedders (who do not appear sick at any time but continue to shed infection to others). Can cause serious fever, swollen and abscessed lymph nodes, and respiratory symptoms with potentially serious complications. Dealing with a persistently infected carrier can be frustrating and expensive.


We have seen a remarkable increase in deer ticks in this area of Central New York. Several companies are working towards manufacture of a safe and effective Lyme Vaccination for horses. Although they are close, none of these products have been released at this time. We are continuing to vaccinate horses OFF-LABEL with the dog vaccine. Although it is not approved in horses it has been shown effectiveness at preventing Lyme Disease. Please ask your vet at the visit if you have questions about this vaccine.

We look forward to seeing you this spring for your horse’s annual vaccinations. If you have any questions/ concerns about their risk please ask. Also don’t forget your Coggins test. This simple blood test for antibodies to the disease Equine Infectious Anemia which is spread through blood contamination (mare to foal, or insects). In New York requires a negative coggins test within 12 months for any horse entering the state. A negative test is required for any horse transported on a public road in the current or previous calendar year). Shows and events can ask for a negative test within a shorter period of time at their discretion. The test can be rushed by the lab for an extra fee, but does only take a few days to get back. Please look to see when your horse’s last test was drawn to help be prepared for your spring/summer riding season.