Help Create Optimal Show Performance with Vaccination
RELEASE: May 22, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Ryan
Competitions bring together people and horses from different corners of the country, but they also can bring disease. Ensuring horses are properly vaccinated before show season can help protect competing horses and prevent loss of performance.
“Horses can be exposed to disease in the stable, during the trip or through contact with other horses,” said Dr. Frank Hurtig, Director, Veterinary Services, Merial. “There is a good chance of illness any time animals from different backgrounds are commingled. Sometimes, these signs appear quickly and can even prevent horses from entering the show ring at all. Vaccination is key to protecting against disease, and healthy horses compete better than sick ones.”
Before the first big show, horse owners should talk to their veterinarian. Some vaccines require boosters for adequate protection, and there may be additional vaccinations recommended when traveling or competing.
If you are traveling a longer distance, be sure to consider diseases of concern in that area. For instance, Potomac horse fever (PHF) is common near bodies of water, but it’s important to note that disease boundaries are not hard and fast. PHF has been seen in nontraditional areas as remote as northern Wyoming(1)—although the true geographic distribution of PHF across the country is not known. The signs of PHF can include fever, laminitis and even death.(2)
More temperate climates have a longer mosquito season, potentially exposing horses to West Nile Virus (WNV). Horse owners should ask their veterinarian for a vaccine with a strong duration of immunity that can help protect against WNV throughout the show season.
No matter where the competition, WNV is probably a concern. WNV has been identified in all areas of the United States.(3) That’s why the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recently revised its core vaccination guidelines to include WNV and rabies.
“Rabies is a fundamental vaccine for all horses, whether competing or out on the pasture,” Dr. Hurtig said. “Rabies can be transmitted from horses to humans, and is deadly to both. Vaccinating your horse against rabies before an event helps protect horses, owners, and everyone at the competition.”
A single case of rabies during an event can put thousands at risk. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified more than 150,000 people who attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration of potential rabies exposure after a case was confirmed during the event. Although no human cases resulted, thousands of people were at risk.(5)
Of course, equine influenza is always a concern for competing horses, and the recent events in Australia demonstrate how contagious the disease can be. Influenza is a leading cause of respiratory disease in horses.(6)
“Bringing hundreds of horses into a new environment exposes each to potential viruses, but it also can expose horses left at home,” Dr. Hurtig said. “Viruses can travel back to the barn or stable on the horses, buckets or trailers—even on your clothes. A complete vaccination program can help reduce exposure and keep all horses healthy.”
Merial is the maker of leading equine vaccines, such as RECOMBITEK® Equine West Nile Virus vaccine, RECOMBITEK Equine Influenza Virus vaccine, POTOMAVAC™ and IMRAB® Large Animal rabies vaccine.
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being, and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2007 sales were nearly $2.5 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis. For more information, please see www.merial.com
1 Hamende V. Potomac horse fever cases confirmed in