Horse vaccination should be done for a variety of diseases, including Encephalitis and West Nile virus. There is no way to prevent mosquitoes that carry Encephalitis and West Nile from biting your horse, but you can prevent the viruses from becoming an issue.
The “EW” in vaccines is Encephalitis. Eastern and Western Encephalitis are of concern all through the mosquito season. Signs of equine Encephalitis are head pressing and stumbling. Even if horses recover from the disease, they will continue to stumble, which is a definite safety concern if ridden. Prevention with the equine Encephalitis vaccine has been the only sure way of avoiding Encephalitis in horses. Encephalomyelitis
West Nile Virus is Encephalitis and the symptoms are much the same as “EW” but with more muscle fasciculation. The typical early signs are twitching and shaking of the chest muscles and stumbling. Once a horses starts showing symptoms of encephalitis in horses, the treatment needed to ride them again is expensive and seldom successful. Water fowl are a common carrier for the West Nile Virus. If you live in a water fowl flyway, you will see a second rise in West Nile Virus when the birds return from the arctic.
Prestige® V + WNV vaccine protects healthy horses against Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Influenza, Tetanus, Rhino, and West Nile Virus.
Tetanus in Horses
Tetanus in horses or lockjaw is caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria found in horse manure. If your horse gets cut or steps on anything that punctures him, he will get exposed. There is no treatment that works for tetanus in horses, so you need to vaccinate for tetanus in horses yearly to ensure horses stay safe. It is called lockjaw because the muscles contract with this disease, “lock up” and cannot be relaxed. Horses get very scared and rigid and any sound can cause them to throw themselves to the ground when they jump.
Equine Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis
Equine influenza and Rhinopneumonitis (Herpesvirus) are both viruses that cause respiratory diseases in a horse. Horse flu is similar to our flu with a respiratory snot nose. Rhino in horses acts much like a cold in humans and starts with coughing. You can treat your horses to get over it, but the biggest issue is you can’t ride them during recovery, which takes two or three months. If it happens to be during the time frame for that trail ride you waited for, it doesn’t make your day! Prevent it from happening with the equine flu rhino vaccine.
Horse Pest Control
Once you get your horses vaccinated, you should also make sure their living conditions are treated for added protection. Eliminate standing water and containers that hold standing water. Discourage birds from living around your stable. Use sprays safe for the environment to control the mosquito population. Products like Cedarcide YardSafe, Country Vet® Flying Insect Spray, or Permethrin 10% are long-lasting and work to kill mosquitoes.
We want to encourage everyone to vaccinate your backyard horse! With lots of mosquitoes around, Encephalitis is always a concern. Look for a vaccine that lists “EWTF with West Nile” to cover them all. Remember horse vaccines when you place your next order and win this disease fight before it ever gets started.
If you need help or have other questions on horse vaccination, call us at 800.786.4751.
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.