We are a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approved equine hospital.
We have had many questions from clients about equine influenza vaccines over the last few days. Influenza does occur from time to time every year, and is most commonly reported in unvaccinated horses.
The detection of influenza in a small number of vaccinated horses has lead some people to question whether vaccination is worthwhile.
We are following expert advice and believe that vaccination is essential to controlling equine flu and is particularly important at present. All horses immune systems respond slightly differently to the flu vaccine and flu can vary a little from strain to strain so predicting the exact response to an infection can be difficult but vaccination remains by far the most important way of controlling this disease
Experience from recent outbreaks shows that even in situations where vaccine protection is not 100% the vaccines are still helpful by reducing the severity of the symptoms, reducing the time that the horse is ill for and reducing spread of disease.
Spread of flu through unvaccinated groups of horses is often rapid, horses are generally more sick and take longer to recover. In rare cases it can be fatal.
Vaccination works by mimicking the effects of infection using dead/deactivated virus or parts of the virus. The horse’s own immune system then comes to recognise the virus and is primed and ready if it meets a real flu virus. The vaccines are produced and updated using expert scinetific guidance to cover the strains of flu that they think our horses are most likely to be exposed to.
By boosting vaccination the immune system remains primed. The frequency of boosters will be determined by the level of risk the horse is exposed to. At present we advise vaccination for all unvaccinated horses and in some cases 6 monthly booster vaccination depending on the horse’s situation. Please feel free to call the clinic should you wish to discuss your horse’s vaccinations.