Boosting Horse Health

A "one and done” spring approach might not be enough. Learn more about fall booster vaccinations.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Zoetis

A one-time sliding or backing lesson can help your horse in the short term, but it won’t make much of a difference in the long term. The same can be said for vaccinations. A once-a-year spring vaccination will help offer protection and can activate an immune response, but it might not be enough to combat the viral challenges of fall trips.

If your horse travels on and off the farm or boards with other horses who do, a second vaccination might be necessary to help boost immunity to acceptable levels. Protection against some diseases such as tetanus and rabies can be accomplished by boostering once a year. Others may require more frequent intervals to help provide adequate protection.

For example, equine influenza is one of the most common respiratory diseases in horses. The highly contagious virus can spread from horse to horse over distances as far as 50 yards by aerosol transmission (snorting or coughing).,sup>1 The telltale signs of illness are similar to those of humans with a cold: dry cough, nasal discharge, fever, depression and loss of appetite.2

Besides causing discomfort for your horse, the virus can lead to losses in training days and additional veterinary costs. In fact, the cost of equine influenza virus can reach up to $885 for an unvaccinated horse.* Using the Equine Influenza Calculator app, available for free in the Apple® App Store®, you can calculate individual risk based on economic and environmental factors.

Interested in learning more about a specific equine health problem? Download AQHA's FREE Potomac Horse Fever report.

The best way to help protect a horse against the risk of EIV is to vaccinate before exposure. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, at-risk horses should be vaccinated for EIV every six months.3 At-risk horses include those who are less than 6 years of age, geriatric horses and horses who may be frequently exposed to EIV at shows, trail rides or other events.

The FLUVAC INNOVATOR® line of vaccines has been more extensively tested in EIV challenge-of-immunity studies than any other line of equine influenza vaccines.4-8 This research legacy helps ensure protection against circulating contemporary EIV strains, including the Richmond 07 strain. The Zoetis commitment to providing an immunologically current EIV vaccine has made FLUVAC INNOVATOR the market leader.9 They also are the only vaccines shown to help prevent clinical disease in 100 percent of vaccinated horses after a challenge with an Ohio ’03 isolate.5

For horses who travel to, live in or come into contact with horses in warmer climates, a fall booster vaccination is advised for mosquito-borne viruses (West Nile, eastern equine encephalomyelitis and western equine encephalomyelitis). In fact, if your horse received a combination vaccine this spring, there’s another option for protection. Consider giving WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® in the fall. It helps protect horses by providing up to a four-fold increase in the immune response when compared with one-shot, big combination vaccines.10

To ensure peace of mind, these vaccines are also part of the Equine Immunization Support Guarantee from Zoetis.** This guarantee provides up to $5,000 for reasonable diagnostic and treatment costs if a horse properly vaccinated by a veterinarian contracts the corresponding equine disease.

Become a horse health expert. Download AQHA's FREE Potomac Horse Fever report and learn about a specific horse health problem.

Few things will help protect your horses from the ravages of disease as easily and effectively as vaccinations. They are a vital part of proper equine management. If incorporated into a program that includes regular deworming, an ample supply of clean water, a good nutrition program and a safe environment, you and your horses can enjoy many happy, healthy, productive years together.

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*These costs are based on diagnostics, treatment and days of missed training based on the probability of mild, moderate or severe equine influenza in an unvaccinated horse from research trials11-13 and include manual inputs of market prices and other variables. Results will vary.

**This guarantee does not apply to, and Zoetis shall not be liable for, any (x) damages caused as a result of the improper handling, misuse or abuse of the vaccines that are the subject of this guarantee, or the willful misconduct or negligence of any third party, or (y) any indirect, punitive, special, incidental or consequential damages. Zoetis reserves the right to modify or cancel the terms and conditions of this guarantee.

1 The American Association of Equine Practitioners. Suspected Case of Contagious Infectious Respiratory Disease, 2006. Available at: Accessed July 14, 2014.
2 Equine Influenza Vaccine Protocols: Boosters are best, 2010. Available at: Accessed July 14, 2014.
3 The American Association of Equine Practitioners. Risk-Based Vaccination Guidelines. Equine Influenza. Available at: Accessed July 14, 2014.
4 Data on file, Study Report No. 671-02-001R, Zoetis Inc.
5 Data on file, Study Report No. 671-08-004.R, Zoetis Inc.
6 Data on file, Study Report No. 766-09-002.R, Zoetis Inc.
7 Data on file, Study Report No. 10OREQBIO-01, Zoetis Inc.
8 Data on file, Study Report No. 14OREQBIO-1, Zoetis Inc.
9 Data on file, MDI Sales Data from 2004-2013, Zoetis Inc.
10 Cortese V, Hankins K, Holland R, Syvrud K. Serologic Responses of West Nile Virus Seronegative Mature Horses to West Nile Virus Vaccines. J Equine Vet Sci 2013;33(12):1101-1105.
11 Fretz PB, Babiuk LA, McLaughlin B. Equine respiratory disease on the Western Canadian racetracks. Can Vet J 1979:20(2):58-61.
12 Manley L, Caceres P Retrospective cohort study of an equine influenza outbreak in the Chilean army in the metropolitan region of Santiago during 2006, in Proceedings.12th Symposium of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Durban, South Africa 2009:64.
13 Sugita S, Okl H, Hasegawa T, Ishida N. Estimation models for the morbidity of the horses infected with influenza virus. J Equine Sci 2008:19(3):63-66.