Equine Influenza: Vaccinating for Optimal Protection

Equine influenza is one of the most contagious and costly diseases. As such, preventing its spread in the first place is the easiest course of action.
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Equine Influenza: Vaccinating for Optimal Protection
Vaccinating horses is one of the most effective ways to prevent equine influenza. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
In the realm of equine infectious diseases, equine influenza is one of the most contagious and costly—both in terms of finances and lost training or showing time—offenders. As such, preventing its spread in the first place is the easiest course of action.

Vaccinating horses is one of the most effective ways to prevent equine influenza . However, even that’s not fool-proof. During a Partner Sunrise Session at last year’s American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention, held in San Francisco, California, two veterinarians described optimal equine influenza vaccine responses and concerns regarding antigen interference.

Vaccine Efficacy

Tom Chambers, PhD, a professor at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington, and Mark Crisman, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, equine technical services veterinarian with Zoetis and adjunct professor at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, addressed whether veterinarians should give vaccines individually (either one at a time on a single day or several individual vaccines administered at separate sites on the same day) or as part of combination vaccines.

Products in the latter group, also referred to as multivalent vaccines, contain vaccines against several diseases. For example, some combine the vaccines considered by the AAEP to be core (rabies, tetanus, West Nile virus , and Eastern and Western equine encephalitis ) meaning every horse should be vaccinated against them every year, as well as the risk-based vaccines (influenza and equine herpesvirus ) in a single syringe

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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