Fam­ily plan­ning

Your Horse (UK) - - Ask The Experts -

Q Does my mare need an equine herpes vac­ci­na­tion be­fore I put her into foal? Peter Bright, Glouces­ter­shire Donal says... The an­swer to this de­pends on nu­mer­ous fac­tors, in­clud­ing your mare’s pre­vi­ous vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus and your cur­rent hus­bandry pro­ce­dures. To help an­swer though, it’s best that own­ers un­der­stand the equine herpes virus (EHV) and the prob­lems and symp­toms it can cause. The two main types, EHV-1 and EHV-4, are also the types we can vac­ci­nate against. EHV-1 is the most sig­nif­i­cant vi­ral cause of abor­tion in horses. How­ever, it is more com­monly known for the res­pi­ra­tory symp­toms it can spark in young an­i­mals. In some cases, EHV-1 may even cause neu­ro­log­i­cal signs, such as paral­y­sis. The other type, EHV-4, usu­ally causes mild res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease. The dis­ease is spread via di­rect or in­di­rect con­tact, such as shared wa­ter troughs or via peo­ple’s hands and clothes. The symp­toms in young an­i­mals are of­ten snotty noses, fever, cough­ing and re­duced ap­petite.

The pro­gramme

The stan­dard vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme is to give two pri­mary vac­cines four to six weeks apart, then booster vac­ci­na­tions at six-month in­ter­vals. Dur­ing preg­nancy it is ad­vised to vac­ci­nate preg­nant mares at five, seven and nine months of preg­nancy. It is also ad­vised to re­strict con­tact be­tween preg­nant mares and young horses and/or show or per­for­mance horses. Horses com­ing on and off the yard should ide­ally be vac­ci­nated too. Vac­ci­na­tion does not pre­vent in­fec­tion fully, but sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the chance of it oc­cur­ring, the sever­ity and length of ill­ness, and the in­ci­dence of abor­tion. It also as­sists in herd im­mu­nity.

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