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Rhino vaccinations
Rhino vaccinations

Of all the  vaccinations we recommend for the pregnant mare, the rhinopneumonitis vaccine is not only the longest and most difficult to pronounce, but is the most important.  This disease affects both the respiratory and the reproductive tract.  While the disease is known as rhino, rhinopneumonitis, or “the snots,” it is actually due to a herpes virus.  There are five strains recognized in horses.

The most common health problem that the herpes virus causes in the horse is the respiratory form.  This is spread from horse to horse.  The affected horse will run a fever and a display a loss of appetite.  It may also swell in the hind legs and throat area, and may have a thick discharge from the nose.  This condition can easily become chronic, leaving the horse with a suppressed immune system.  It will then be more susceptible to other respiratory conditions and chronic coughing from a persistent tracheitis.  This is the most common ‘resident’ respiratory problem of training barns.  It is easily spread and can take away from the horse’s performance or training time.  By now you can see the importance of vaccinating to prevent the respiratory outbreak.

Two other syndromes associated with these viruses include neurological diseases and abortions.  Fortunately we see few of the neurological problems, as they usually leave the horse paralyzed, unable to stand, with a very limited life span.

The abortions usually occur late in pregnancy.  The chance of a mare contacting the disease is greater with the increase of traffic from horses who have been visiting other farms or stables.  The aborted fetus is loaded with the virus and can quickly contaminate any other brood mares in the field.  The mare will show little sign of having aborted the fetus, which is why it can be easily overlooked.

Since abortions tend to occur late in pregnancy, we  start vaccinating the mares in mid-pregnancy and repeat the vaccination at two month intervals.  By the time the pregnancy reaches the time for peak abortions, the mare has been vaccinated three times and her immunity should be at an all time high.  We suggest the first vaccination be given at five months of pregnancy and repeated at two month intervals.  By nine months the immunity should be engaged and the mare easily completes her pregnancy.

To avoid the above problems, all you need to do is watch for the reminder cards we send you in the mail.  It is important to start early with the vaccinations and continue them at two month intervals.  The reward will be a healthy, happy foal in the spring.

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