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Herd Health Season

Herd health season will be upon us before we know it, provided Mother Nature feels inclined to put an end to winter sometime soon. Even though we are all still struggling with this cold and snowy season, many of you are already looking forward to riding and show season. Milverton-Wellesley Veterinary Services would like to encourage all of you to start thinking about your equine wellness and health care needs for the year. For those of you who vaccinate your horses in the spring time, we would suggest getting started well before show season begins, to avoid any vaccine related stiffness or sore necks. We are more than happy to help you book those appointments to suit your schedule as we get closer to spring.

A photo of three horses together in a pasture
Herd health season is almost here!

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends a number of core vaccines that all horses should be protected with. These include vaccines against:

  • Tetanus,

  • Rabies,

  • West Nile Virus, and

  • Eastern/Western Equine Encephalitis.

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria and their spores present within the soil in the environment. There is no way to know where these may be located. These spores cause disease by entering wounds or abrasions on horses. It is a very painful and difficult disease to treat successfully, and most horses will not survive.

Rabies is a devastating viral infection that has no treatment or cure. It is transmitted by the saliva of infected wild and domesticated animals and will be fatal if contracted.

West Nile is a neurologic disease caused by virus transmission through mosquitoes. Although horses can survive this disease if treated appropriately, the illness is severe and very hard on the animals. This disease is present throughout this region, and was diagnosed in several horses last summer in our practice territory. Prevention is always better.

Eastern Encephalitis is the more common form of equine encephalitis virus found in this region, and is also transmitted through mosquitoes. This infection is often fatal. Unfortunately, although the disease acts very much like West Nile initially, horses affected by this virus usually succumb to the infection.

Because all of the aforementioned diseases are transmitted either by other diseased animals, contaminated soil, or mosquito exposure, they are very difficult diseases to avoid. Vaccination is in your horse's best interest to prevent these preventable diseases.

Vaccines for:

  • Influenza,

  • Herpes,

  • Strangles,

  • Potomac Horse Fever, and

  • Botulism

are all also offered, but are considered elective / optional vaccines depending on the horse's exposure to these pathogens.

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