Risk-Based Vaccines for Horses

Some diseases are more likely to affect traveling or competing horse populations, and horses need protection against those problems.
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two horses meeting nose to nose

Some horses need protection against a wider range of diseases than other horses.

In our last article in this series, we talked about core vaccines. Those are the ones recommended for infectious diseases that nearly every horse should receive. Recommended core vaccines protect against:

  • Eastern and Western Encephalitis (EEE and WEE)
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)
  • Tetanus
  • Rabies

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There are other vaccines available for diseases that are more likely to affect traveling and competing horse populations, horses that congregate in large groups (whether while traveling or at home), or in special circumstances where a particular disease might be endemic (disease regularly found in a particular area). 

Recommendations to vaccinate against these diseases are related to the risk of these horses to exposure due to travel, during outbreaks, or based on breeding disease risks, as some examples.

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Risk-based vaccines that are available for horses include:

  • Anthrax
  • Botulism
  • Equine herpesvirus (Rhinopneumonitis)
  • Equine influenza virus (EIV)
  • Equine viral arteritis (EVA)
  • Leptospirosis
  • Potomac horse fever (PHF)
  • Rotaviral diarrhea
  • Snakebite
  • Strangles

Horse owners will want to involve their veterinarians in making the decision about which risk-based vaccines are needed in your area or for your horse(s). You also need your veterinarian's input on timing of vaccination, whether it is based on show schedule, geographic requirement or travel to different areas. 

Keep in mind that recent equine influenza vaccinations are required for entry into many horse show grounds. Check with your show or equine event organizer to ensure that your horse is properly vaccinated based on show rules.

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