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Which Vaccinations Should My Horse Get?

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) provides guidelines on equine vaccines to assist veterinarians and horse owners in making informed decisions regarding their horses' health. These recommendations are based on the risk of disease, prevalence, geographic location, and the horse's individual circumstances.

guidelines on equine vaccines

Here are some commonly recommended vaccines and their rationale:

Core Vaccines: The AAEP recommends core vaccines for all horses regardless of their geographical location or exposure risk. These vaccines protect against diseases that pose significant health risks and have a high potential for transmission. Core vaccines include:

  • Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE): These viral diseases spread via mosquitoes and can be life-threatening. Vaccination reduces the risk of neurological damage or death.

  • Tetanus: Caused by bacteria found in soil, tetanus can be contracted through wounds or punctures. Vaccination is crucial as the disease is often fatal.

  • Rabies: Rabies is a fatal neurological disease that affects all mammals, including horses. Vaccination helps prevent transmission and is important from both an equine and human health perspective.

Risk-Based Vaccines: These vaccines are recommended based on factors such as regional prevalence, exposure risk, or horse management practices. Some commonly recommended risk-based vaccines include:

  • Equine Herpesvirus (EHV): EHV-1 and EHV-4 are viral diseases that can cause respiratory illness, neurological disorders, and abortions. Vaccination is particularly important for horses that travel, compete, or are kept in high-density environments.

  • Equine Influenza (Flu): Flu is highly contagious and can spread rapidly among horses, causing respiratory illness and impacting performance. Vaccination is recommended, especially for horses involved in activities that involve contact with other horses.

  • West Nile Virus (WNV): Transmitted by mosquitoes, WNV can cause neurological disease in horses. Vaccination is important, particularly in areas where the virus is prevalent.

  • Strangles (Streptococcus equi): Strangles is a bacterial infection that causes respiratory problems and swollen lymph nodes. Vaccination is recommended for at-risk horses or horses within high-risk environments.

  • Potomac Horse Fever (PHF): PHF is caused by bacteria and often associated with water sources. Vaccination is recommended in areas where the disease is prevalent, as well as for horse traveling to or through those areas.

It's important to note that these recommendations may vary based on geographic location, horse age, use, and exposure risk. Regular consultation with a veterinarian is essential to develop an appropriate vaccination plan tailored to your horse's needs.

Remember, vaccination not only protects individual horses but also helps reduce the risk of disease transmission across the equine population, promoting overall equine health and welfare. 


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