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Vaccines can prevent and/or reduce the severity of the disease but by stimulating the horse’s immune system, but vaccines are not 100% effective.

Vaccines are not a benign product. Localized vaccine reactions can occur at the site of injection and generalized lethargy and stiffness can also occur, as well as a low grade fever. These are all part of the body’s response to the vaccine.

If the vaccination status of your horse is unknown it is recommended that the horse be vaccinated immediately.

The most suitable vaccine for you horse depends on your horse’s age, use, exposure risk, location and level of care.

Vaccines that are given for the first time need to be followed up with a booster shot 4-6 weeks after the initial shot.

While most vaccines are available at local feed stores, the best way to ensure that it was properly handled is to have your veterinarian administer all of your vaccines. Manufacturers will stand behind their vaccines when they are given by a veterinarian. Zoetis offers a vaccine guarantee.

The effectiveness of a vaccine decreases over time, and some vaccines need to be boostered more often than others.

Eastern Encephalitis (EEE), Western Encephalitis(WEE), and West Nile Virus (WNV):

These are mosquito borne diseases that cause fever, loss of appetite, and neurological symptoms like hypersensitivity to sound, touch, and light; muscle tremors, lack of coordination and paralysis. In unvaccinated horses, EEE has a mortality rate up to 75-100%. The only treatment for these viral infections is supportive care. Because of the long mosquito season here we highly recommend vaccination twice a year with the first shot given before mosquito season begins.


Influenza (Flu) and Rhinopneumonitis (Equine herpes virus):

Symptoms of flu in horses include fever, cough, nasal discharge, lack of appetite, and stiffness. Equine herpes virus can manifest in three forms: respiratory, neurological and abortive. The respiratory form looks very much like flu, with fever, cough, nasal discharge, and loss of appetite. The symptoms of the neurologic form include lack of coordination, paralysis, and recumbancy. Abortion occurs in pregnant mares during the last few months of their pregnancy – 7-11 months.

We recommend at least twice a year vaccinations for horses that travel and/or show. We recommend vaccination of pregnant mares with the Pneumabort vaccine at 5,7, and 9 months of gestation, and with regular flu/rhino 4-6 weeks prior to foaling.



Tetanus is a bacterial infection associated with wounds; specifically puncture wounds, and contaminated soft tissue. Symptoms start with stiffness, retracted lips, ears pulled down and back and progress to muscle spasms, the spasm of the third eyelid, sawhorse stance, hypersensitivity to light, sound and touch, and death. The mortality rate can be as high as 50%. We recommend vaccination once a year and if needed  because of injury, a dose of tetanus antitoxin.



Rabies is a disease that is contracted through the bite or contact with saliva of a rabid animal (usually wildlife). There is no test available for a live animal, and it is 100% fatal. Symptoms include lack of appetite, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, lack of coordination, depression, hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, and eventually paralysis and death. Because of recent cases of rabies in our area, we recommend that all horses be vaccinated for rabies annually.



Strangles is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory track. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, and abscesses under the jaw that rupture and drain. Strangles is a highly contagious disease and can be easily spread through contact with contaminated objects, by direct contact, and poor hygiene. We recommend horses that travel and/or show be vaccinated annually.

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Summit Equine Hospital

1600 E. Williams St

Apex, NC 27539

(919) 362-8879 (Local)

(855) 411-0811 (Long Distance)


Copyright, Summit Equine Hospital, 2016