The specific immunizations needed by a particular horse depend upon several factors: environment, age, breed, sex, use, exposure risk, geographic location and general management. We can help determine the vaccination program best suited to your horse’s individual needs.
Encephalomyelitis: More commonly known as “sleeping sickness”. In Michigan, we vaccinate against Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE). Sleeping sickness is most often transmitted by mosquitoes, after the insects have acquired the virus from birds and rodents. Signs vary, but include fever, depression, and appetite loss. Later, a horse may stagger when it walks, developing paralysis often leading to death. All horses need an annual vaccine.
West Nile: A virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes that can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (encephalomyelitis). Various species of birds can serve as hosts of the virus. Signs can vary in range and severity, those most frequently seen include incoordination or ataxia, twitching of the muzzle and lower lip, twitching of muscles in neck, shoulders or pectoral region. Signs can be bilateral or unilateral. Other signs can include fever, weakness. The severity of clinical signs depend largely on the area of the central nervous system affected by the virus . Incidence of disease is greater in older horses. All horses need an annual vaccine.
Tetanus: Sometimes called “lockjaw”, it is caused by a toxin producing bacteria that can be found in the intestinal tract of many animals and found in abundance in the soil where horses live. Its spores can exist for years. They enter the body through wounds, lacerations, or the umbilicus of new foals. Clinical signs include muscle stiffness and rigidity, flared nostrils, hypersensitivity and the legs stiffly held in a sawhorse stance. As the disease progresses, muscles in the jaw and face stiffen, preventing the animal from eating or drinking. All horses need an annual vaccination and booster when break in skin occurs.
Influenza: This is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The virus can be transmitted by aerosol from horse to horse over 30 yards. Signs to watch for include fever, depression, loss of appetite, nasal discharge and cough. Influenza viruses are constantly changing or “mutating” and can bypass the horses’ immune defense. Duration of protection is short lived and revaccination may be recommended frequently. Horses that travel , horses at boarding stables, horses that attend equine events and young horses three and younger are most at risk and should be regularly immunized.
Rhinopneumonitis: Two viruses, equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) cause two different diseases. Both cause respiratory tract problems, and EHV-1 may also cause abortion, foal death and neurological disease. Infected horses may be feverish and lethargic, may loose appetite and have nasal discharge and cough. The virus is spread by aerosol and by direct contact with secretions, utensils or drinking water. Virus may be present but not apparent in carrier animals. More EHV-1 information can be found at: http://www.aaep.org/info/horse-health?publication=753
Potomac Horse Fever: Potomac is spread by slugs and flying insects that may feed off slugs and then are ingested by a horse. There is not any direct horse to horse transmission of Potomac Horse Fever. Signs include initially off feed, high temperature preceding fluid diarrhea and laminitis.
Rabies: Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, like bats, skunk, raccoon and fox. Rabies is always fatal.
Stangles: Highly contagious bacterial disease caused by the Streptococcus equi found in the soil of affected farms, racetracks and show grounds. Signs include: high temperature, large swollen lymph nodes under the jaw, nasal discharge and cough. Young horses, horses that travel to fairgrounds, boarding stables and come in contact with unknown horses should consider vaccination.