Vaccination provides your horse important protection against some of the more serious and potentially life-threatening diseases that can occur. They act to stimulate the body’s natural response to a disease, allowing a rapid and effective response if that disease is encountered later in life. This can be the difference between severe clinical disease and a healthy horse!
The most common equine vaccines are for ‘tetanus’ and ‘strangles’.
Tetanus is a severe and generally fatal disease caused by infection of wounds with spores of Clostrium tetani, a bacteria that lives in the soil. It results in muscle rigidity, convulsions and respiratory failure. It is very difficult to treat and horses are highly susceptible to infection (even a small unnoticed wound is a potential entry point), making vaccination a must!
Strangles is a highly infectious disease affecting the respiratory system. It results in abscessation of lymph nodes of the head and neck, with large abscesses giving the classic swollen ‘strangles’ appearance around the throat. In severe cases abscessation can spread to vital organs causing chronic disease and potentially death. If caught early disease outbreaks can be managed and affected horses are able to be treated, although recovery can be prolonged and poor growth rates are often seen in young animals.
Vaccines are also available for diseases such as equine herpes virus, salmonella and rotavirus. These are generally used in breeding situations to protect mares from abortion and foals from potentially life-threatening diarrhoea.
All vaccines have different treatment courses and recommendations for use so always consult your vet first to discuss what might be best for you and your horses.
Remember prevention is always better than cure!