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Springtime Reminder, vaccinate for shows...

Spring Is the Time to Vaccinate and Pregnancy Test

Those of us attending the horse shows this spring have heard coughing among the horses.   Unfortunately, this is common in the early shows.  Only one or two horses attending an event is enough to expose every horse there.  The respiratory infections are influenza (flu), rhinopneumonitis (rhino), the strep infections (strangles), and an array of unnamed organisms.  Flu and rhino are viral infections.  Strangles is due to a bacterial infection.

The viral infections are easily spread through the air.  The virus particles are spread over a wide area with each cough.  These are then inhaled by the horses unfortunate enough to be in the area.  The strep infection can spread by air but more commonly is disseminated by direct contact.

Fortunately, there is protection against flu, rhino, and strangles.  There are vaccines available for all three.  The frequency of vaccination depends on the exposure your horse will experience.  If Dobbin does not go to town much, twice yearly boosters will be adequate.  If he goes out often, we recommend at least quarterly boosters for the flu and rhino.  They are viruses and do not stimulate a long term immunity in the horse.  The vaccines must be given more often to maintain a protective immunity.

The recommendation for strangles is usually one booster each year after the initial two vaccinations as a foal.  Because of the virulence (aggressiveness) of the strep organism and the large number of cases in our area, we booster our patients twice yearly.  This is working very well and you only have to experience one case of strangles to realize the value of protection.

The availability of vaccines for flu, rhino, and strangles is the good news.  The bad news is that at every event where more than one farm or stables is represented, there will be respiratory viruses and bacteria for which there is no vaccine.  These are unique to each farm and the horses there will have immunity to them but not to the unique viruses or bacteria from other farms.  So why vaccinate if the horse can not be guaranteed of staying healthy?  Most of the illnesses are due to the flu and rhino viruses.  Vaccinating against these will provide protection most of the time.  In addition, vaccinating also stimulates the immunity of the horse, strengthening it to better fight off the farm viruses.  This increased immunity is often enough to prevent the horse from developing a cough or outright respiratory illness.

Changing trails a little, now is the time to confirm that your mare is pregnant.  An examination now will still allow some time to rebreed the mare should she not be pregnant.  This will prevent her from remaining open all year.  If the mare has been bred to a proven stallion through two heat periods and is still not pregnant, there is probably a problem with her.  Diagnosing the problem and treating it will allow time for rebreeding this year.  Even if you want to wait until next year because of the time of the year, the problem must be corrected this year to prevent irreversible damage to the uterus between now and next breeding season.  An infected uterus stands little chance of becoming pregnant regardless of the number of breedings.

While some of the stud farms like to stop breeding July 1, we are still receiving semen without a problem.  There have been a couple of times when the heat was blamed for a reduction in the volume of semen collected, and shipments could not be made. But these were from south Texas.

What could be better news than to know the mare is pregnant?  Finding out now will give you peace of mind for almost a year!

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