Vaccination can reduce the severity of clinical symptoms, lesions, and the level of excretion of the pathogen by the infected animal. It thus protects the rest of the group and decreases the spread of the disease. But in addition to providing protection for your horse against certain diseases, it is also an opportunity for your horse to be subject to an annual inspection by your vet. This allows you to address any concerns that you may have regarding the wellbeing and good health of your horse.
In France, we vaccinate mainly against four diseases:
- Flu (highly contagious disease, which can have serious consequences to the respiratory system)
- Rhinopneumonitis (also very contagious disease, sometimes leaving after effects to the respiratory system, possible latent infection)
- Tetanus (serious illness, sometimes fatal, horses are highly sensitive to this as subject to many ‘at risk’ situations such as injuries in the field)
- Rabies (disease transmissible to humans and deadly)
- Vaccines are also available against Equine Viral Arteritis (vaccination of breeding animals) and West Nile disease.
The compulsory vaccination for horses participating in gatherings (CSO contest, CCE, dressage, racing, shows…) concerns only the flu.
However it is very strongly advised to vaccinate all horses from a herd against the four diseases mentioned above. The first vaccination induces immunisation in the first year. For some diseases such as rabies, a single injection is sufficient, whereas for tetanus, rhinopneumonitis and flu, the first two injections, one month apart are required.
Vaccination against rabies and rhinopneumonitis should be repeated 6 months after the first vaccination in the first year.
Booster vaccinations are then required annually (every two years for tetanus), except for horses participating in international competitions who must then have a flu booster every 6 months.