AAEP Updates Vaccination Guidelines

The guidelines make new recommendations for core and risk-based vaccines for horses. The committee further emphasizes that routine vaccinations are considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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AAEP Updates Vaccination Guidelines
The committee also emphasizes that routine vaccinations are considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse
The Infectious Disease Committee of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has issued revised guidelines for the administration of selected core and risk-based vaccines to horses.

The recommendations are based on the horse’s age and previous vaccination history and are meant to serve as a reference for veterinarians. Reviewed guidelines include the core vaccinations Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), and rabies; and the risk-based vaccinations anthrax, botulism, equine herpesvirus (EHV), equine viral arteritis (EVA), equine influenza, leptospirosis, Potomac horse fever, rotaviral diarrhea, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE).

Important modifications to the AAEP Vaccination Guidelines for Horses include:

  • The Adult Horse Vaccination and Foal Vaccination charts have been updated to match changes made in various vaccination guidelines and vaccine manufacturer label recommendations. Changes to the foal chart also include updates to the Rabies vaccination recommendations for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated mares. Changes to the adult horse chart include updates to the broodmare section to recommend vaccinating those mares prepartum with a “respiratory EHV” product in addition to the abortion product.
  • The anthrax guidelines indicate that the disease can be contracted in an endemic area via vector-borne transmission. Further recommendations have been added for horses during an outbreak (e.g., vaccinate afebrile, or feverish, horses not showing clinical signs).
  • The EEE and WEE guidelines encourage veterinarians to consult with vaccine manufacturers for their geographic region and to consider the region’s case frequency for the current year and in recent years.
  • The equine influenza guidelines include recommendations for horses that have recovered from natural infection. It also notes that some facilities and competitions might require vaccination within the previous six months to enter.
  • The EVA guidelines indicate that the occasional stallion might shed very low concentrations of vaccine virus in his semen for several days following first-time EVA vaccination and recommend confirming negative status prior to vaccination.
  • The leptospirosis guidelines incorporate recommendations for foals as young as 3 months of age and emphasize that the licensed vaccine is safe for pregnant mares at all stages of parturition.
  • The rabies guidelines provide guidance for how to approach a horse that has been exposed to a confirmed rabid animal.

The AAEP Infectious Disease Committee stresses that veterinarians, through an appropriate veterinarian-client-patient relationship, should use the recommendations, coupled with available products, to determine the best professional care for their patients. Horse owners should consult with a licensed veterinarian before initiating a vaccination program

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AAEP Mission: To improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry. More information: www.aaep.org.

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