The core vaccines
A number of dreadful diseases are now very rare among horses---thanks to some of the simplest and cheapest preventive measures we have.
A number of dreadful diseases are now very rare among horses--thanks to some of the simplest and cheapest preventive measures we have.
Vaccination easily ranks as one of the single most important things you do to protect your horse’s health. In fact, vaccines have been so successful that it’s rare to even hear of horses contracting several dreadful diseases that once loomed as a constant threat.
It is worthwhile, though, to remember what those injections are doing---especially the four “core” vaccines the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends for every horse. The AAEP guidelines distinguish between two categories of equine vaccines: Nine are included in the “risk-based” group, which your veterinarian might recommend only for those horses most in need of protection against certain illnesses (anthrax, botulism, equine herpesvirus, equine viral arteritis, equine influenza, Potomac horse fever, rotaviral diarrhea, snakebite and strangles). Risk may be based on diseases endemic to a particular region, an outbreak or epidemic in a specific area, and/or whether a horse’s “lifestyle”---as a breeding animal or equine athlete---increases the risk of exposure to particular pathogens.
In contrast, the four core vaccines---eastern/western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE), rabies, tetanus and West Nile virus (WNV)--have several characteristics: • They protect against diseases that occur year after year---by way of disease carriers in the soil, carried by insects or local wildlife---so that every horse is at risk, regardless of location or lifestyle. • They prevent diseases that have a high mortality rate and/or have no effective treatment. • They are safe, effective and widely available. • In the case of rabies, the vaccine protects human health and lives.
Here is a brief overview of the four diseases the core vaccines protect against.