Horse ThermometerHay Folks!

Do you remember Stardust’s blog post about viruses that mosquitoes carry?? If not, then quickly click here for a quick refresher!  Mosquitoes are still out in full force and are expected to remain into the fall season, so make sure your horse is up to date on their vaccines!

All caught up?? Good. Now it time to talk about other viruses and bacterial diseases we, four-legged creatures can get and the vaccines created by amazing scientists to protect us and keep us healthy.

Has your parent or guardian ever told you to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze? This is to help you from spreading contagious viruses like the flu. Unfortunately for horses, we can’t grab a tissue to cover our faces. Wouldn’t that be SOMETHING??!! So the equine form of the flu (equine influenza) and other upper respiratory (mouth, nose, and throat) infections can easily and QUICKLY spread through a herd, especially if they aren’t vaccinated.



Upper respiratory infections (URIs) can affect a horse at any age, but are more common in young and older horses. Also, competitive horses are at higher risk due to interaction with horses from other premises. These infections can spread from horse to horse either through direct contact or indirectly by sharing equipment or feed buckets. Your horse can be vaccinated against the following diseases annually or sometimes twice a year if they are at higher risk, such as competitive horses.

The warning signs are very similar and your veterinarian will be able to help you determine which one they have. Some signs are:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • A hard, dry cough.
  • Swollen lymph nodes, which usually become abscesses that need to be drained

Equine influenza…

…is the most common URI. Horses should be rested one week for every day of fever. This means if your horse has a fever for 3 DAYS, then you should rest them for 3 WEEKS. Sometimes an anti-inflammatory agent or antibiotics might be needed.

Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) Rhinopneumonitis… 

Horse Swab…is the second most common URI. Say that three times fast! EHV is a collection of similar viruses that have different levels of severity. Most cause URIs, but they can also affect the brain and reproductive tract.

The virus can lay dormant (showing no signs) in a horse and is only activated during times of stress, such as exercise, transportation, or at weaning. The treatment for EHV is supportive care. For my two-legged friends, that’s like you resting in bed with some chicken noodle soup. There is an EHV vaccine, but it does not have a 100% prevention rate; however, it will minimize the severity of the illness.


is another URI. Sounds awful! Well…it is. Instead of it being caused by a virus; the actual culprit is a bacterium (Streptococcus equi). Once a horse recovers from strangles, they have 50% immunity. This means if they get infected again, then it isn’t as severe as the first time. This bacterium can survive a very long time in water, therefore, with an outbreak, always disinfectant water buckets daily. Some horses can be asymptomatic (showing no signs of infection) but can still shed the bacteria ONE WHOLE MONTH after recovery. Your horse MUST have three negative swabs for the bacteria in order to be removed from quarantine. There is a vaccine to protect your horses from strangles.


For all vaccines, please consult with your veterinarian to customize an appropriate vaccine schedule. Also in case of an outbreak, follow your biosecurity protocols. Check out Marge’s “Farm Cooties” blog post for more information.

Overwhelmed with all this talk of diseases and symptoms and vaccines?? Luckily for you, we created a simple vaccination kit that includes disease information cards and posters on the vaccine schedules for adult horses! We also have a separate poster for foals and weanlings, too! The kit is only $12 and the posters can be purchased for $3 each. That’s a bargain! These kits are great tools for any experienced horse owner as well as young horse enthusiasts!

‘Til Then,

Hoof print_brown


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