Vaccinating Fido Against Rabies? Don't Forget Your Horse

Vaccinating horse against rabies.
Vaccinating horse against rabies. Kondrashov MIkhail Evgenevich

Newsdate: June 6, 2018, 11:00 am
Location: PARSIPPANY, New Jersey

Horses are nearly four times more likely to contract rabies than dogs. Across the U.S., the majority of horses are not vaccinated for rabies and often have a higher risk of exposure than dogs.

Skunks - Carriers of rabies.

Skunks - Carriers of rabies

While dogs are vaccinated against rabies without question, the majority of horses – who are often at higher risk – are not vaccinated.
© 2013 by Tomfriedel

While it’s likely Fido is vaccinated against this fatal disease, the question looms – is your horse protected?

“Everybody is at risk for developing rabies. Your horse is at higher risk for being exposed probably at pasture, but being in a stall does not preclude exposure,” said Bonnie R. Rush, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Interim Dean at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “The consequences of interacting with a horse that has rabies are significant.”

Horses can be exposed to rabies through the saliva of infected animals, commonly bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks. Once inside the horse, the rabies virus travels up the nerves to the brain, where the disease progresses rapidly. Rabies is 100% fatal, and as a zoonotic disease, it presents grave risk to you and your family.5 Two examples of public equine rabies cases are the 2008 Missouri State Fair; and the 2006 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which required the notification of more than 150,000 people for potential rabies exposure.6

Rabies is the deadliest among the five core equine diseases, which also include Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), tetanus and West Nile. Horses are continually exposed to wildlife and mosquitoes that transmit core equine diseases. Whether kept in a barn or pasture, horse owners should not consider their horse spared from dangerous disease risks. As such, core disease vaccinations are recommended annually as part of overall equine wellness, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners core vaccination guidelines.

“Any of the core diseases can be a death sentence for an exposed horse – and alarmingly, with exposure to an animal infected with rabies – family members, friends and any other persons exposed are also at risk of losing their lives to rabies disease, which is always fatal,” said Kevin Hankins, DVM, MBA, senior technical services veterinarian with Zoetis. “A horse owner’s best defense against these devastating diseases is through annual core disease vaccination.”

Horse owners can garner a better understanding of equine rabies risks with these key insights from Dr. Rush. Talk with the veterinarian on your team today about your horse’s core and risk-based vaccination needs. For more information, please visit CoreEquineDiseases.com.

About Zoetis

Zoetis (NYSE: ZTS) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2017, the company generated annual revenue of $5.3 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetisUS.com.

According to meta-analysis, in 2016 there were 58 rabid dogs.1 Fifty-eight cases divided by 78 million domestic dogs2 equates to approximately 0.74 rabies case per million dogs. There were 20 rabid equids.1 Twenty cases divided by 7.2 million horses3 equates to approximately 2.8 rabies cases per million horses.

1 Ma X, Monroe BP, Cleaton JM, et al. Rabies Surveillance in the United States during 2016. JAVMA. 2018;252(8):945-957.

2 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Pet Statistics.
https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics. Accessed May 17, 2018.

3 American Horse Council; Washington, DC; 2017 Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry.
4 Equine Management and Select Equine Health Conditions in the United States, 2015. United States Department of Agriculture.

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/equine/downloads/equine15/Eq2015_Rept3.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2018.

5 American Association of Equine Practitioners. Vaccination Guidelines. https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines. Accessed May 17, 2018.

6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Horse Stabled at Tennessee Walking Horse 2006 National Celebration Tested Positive for Rabies. https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/news/2006-09-09.html. Accessed May 17, 2018.

 

 

About the Author

EquiMed Staff

EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.

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