Core and Risk-Based Vaccinations Needed for Optimal Horse Health

Help evaluate and understand your horse’s risk for disease.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Zoetis

We all know it’s important to help protect our American Quarter Horses against disease with annual vaccinations. However, as horse owners, it’s also crucial that you understand the specific diseases you need to protect your horses against and when.

To help evaluate what diseases to vaccinate your horses against, the American Association of Equine Practitioners has published guidelines that you can discuss with your veterinarian. They break these vaccinations into two categories: core and risk-based. Core vaccinations are those that every horse should receive at least annually, while risk-based vaccines are recommended for horses with particular risk profiles, depending on their age, geography, housing or function.1

We know you care about your horse's health. That's why we've created AQHA's Common Horse Health Issues report. This valuable report will help you to better understand diseases and illnesses that horses can be faced with.

Core vaccines are needed against:*

  • Eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis:  Both are sometimes fatal, mosquito-borne diseases that affect your horse’s nervous system. Since the risk of exposure and geographic distribution of eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis vary from year to year, all horses are at risk.2
  • West Nile virus:  This disease is spread by mosquitoes that have recently fed on an infected bird and is the leading cause of arbovirus encephalitis in horses. The virus has been identified in all of the continental United States, most of Canada and Mexico, and is fatal in up to 33 percent of cases.3
  • Tetanus:  No matter the location, this life-threatening disease is caused by a soil-borne bacterium and is often contracted through a wound.
  • Rabies:  This is an infrequently encountered neurologic disease in horses, but while the incidence remains low, the disease is invariably fatal and poses public health significance.4

Risk-based vaccines are needed against:*

  • Equine herpesvirus (rhinopneumonitis):  This common virus occurs in horse populations worldwide but most commonly in weaned foals and yearlings, often in the autumn or winter. The two most common types are equine herpesvirus Type 1 (EHV-1), which causes abortion, respiratory disease and neurologic disease, and equine herpesvirus Type 4 (EHV-4), which usually causes only respiratory disease but can occasionally cause abortion.5
  • Equine influenza:  One of the most common infectious diseases of the respiratory tract, it can spread quickly among groups of horses from coughing. This commonly affects horses ages 1 to 5. Older horses who may have a weakened immune system from frequent exposure at shows or similar events are susceptible as well.6
  • Strangles:  Caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi, this highly contagious disease (also known as distemper) commonly affects young horses but can affect horses of any age.

Understanding the illnesses that your horse may encounter is the first step in ensuring that your horse is always in the best of health. With AQHA's Common Horse Health Issues report, you will be able to increase your knowledge and keep your horse healthy.

Different vaccine combinations are available to help you develop the best protocol to fit your needs based on your horse’s risk for disease and such factors as breed, age and location. Based on those risk factors, it’s important to consider not only the core vaccinations that every horse needs but also vaccinations for some common risk-based diseases. Vaccines often are offered in combination to target multiple diseases, so work with a veterinarian to develop the right vaccination program for your horses.

Help protect your horses with core and risk-based vaccine solutions such as FLUVAC INNOVATOR® and WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® and PINNACLE® I.N. and PNEUMABORT-K® + 1b.

  • FLUVAC INNOVATOR line of vaccines:  Helps deliver demonstrated protection against circulating contemporary equine influenza viruses and aid in the prevention of equine influenza due to type A2 viruses; equine rhinopneumonitis due to EHV-1 and EHV-4; equine encephalomyelitis due to eastern, western and Venezuelan viruses; and tetanus.
  • WEST NILE-INNOVATOR line of vaccines: Helps deliver demonstrated protection against West Nile virus, and also aids in the prevention of viremia caused by West Nile virus; equine encephalomyelitis due to eastern, western and Venezuelan viruses; and tetanus.
  • PINNACLE I.N.:  Aids in the prevention of strangles caused by Streptococcus equi.
  • PNEUMABORT-K + 1b:  Labeled to help prevent respiratory disease caused by EHV-1p and EHV-1b, as well as for use in pregnant mares as an aid in the prevention of abortion due to EHV-1 infections.

Understanding these diseases and different vaccine combinations can help you make educated decisions about the health of your horses. Providing the essential vaccinations for your horse, when administered at the right frequency and time, can help provide optimal immunity against disease.

For more information on core and risk-based vaccination guidelines for adult horses and foals, visit the American Association of Equine Practitioners website at, contact your Zoetis representative, call 888-ZOETIS1 (888-963-8471) or go online to

In the detailed, downloadable report of AQHA's Common Horse Health Issues, you'll get an understanding of strangles, laminities/founder, West Nile virus, equine herpesvirus, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis and many other diseases that affect our equine friends. By downloading yours today, you'll be one step closer to increasing your horse health knowledge.

We’re Zoetis. Built on 60 years of experience as Pfizer Animal Health, and now focused solely on animal health. FOR ANIMALS. FOR HEALTH. FOR YOU.

*All suggestions and full descriptions of core and risk-based vaccines are available at

1American Association of Equine Practitioners. Core Vaccination Guidelines. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.
2American Association of Equine Practitioners. Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.
3American Association of Equine Practitioners. Tetanus. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.
4American Association of Equine Practitioners. Rabies. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.
5American Association of Equine Practitioners. Equine Herpesvirus (Rhinopneumonitis). 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.
6American Association of Equine Practitioners. Equine Influenza. 2012. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2013.

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