The Horse

APR 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse April 2019 23 ■ Have all animals (not just your horses but also any cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, pigs, dogs, and cats) that could potentially be exposed vaccinated. An accredited veterinarian must admin- ister this vaccine. (See the American Association of Equine Practitioners [AAEP] vaccination recommendations in the sidebar.); ■ Secure pet food indoors to minimize the scavenging habits of potential rabies hosts, such as coyotes, skunks, and raccoons; ■ Remove garbage and other attractants from your property; ■ Block off nesting places for hosts, such as openings under houses and other buildings; and ■ Be alert for wildlife that might be act- ing strangely. If you see anything suspi- cious, report it to your local health department (find yours at cdc.gov/ rabies/resources/contacts.html). You might have to take additional pre- ventive steps if you're shipping your horse outside the United States. Each country has its own vaccination and quarantine regulations (which your vet can help you navigate), says Susan Moore, PhD, director of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory's Rabies Lab, in Manhattan. My Horse (or I) Was Exposed. What Do I Do? If you suspect an infected animal has bitten your horse, your veterinarian and/ or public health officials will guide you in what to do. The AAEP says horses that have been vaccinated with one of the USDA-approved vaccines should be re- vaccinated immediately and quarantined (as directed by public health officials) for 45 days to observe whether clinical rabies signs develop. Public health officials will dictate the procedure for horses that haven't been vaccinated previously or whose vaccina- tion histories are unknown. Options might include isolation and immediate post- exposure immunization or euthanasia. If the horse's owner is unwilling to eu- thanize him, the AAEP recommends he be quarantined (at the owner's expense) un- der veterinary supervision for six months, if the appropriate health officials concur. If during this period the horse begins to exhibit signs of rabies infection, he will most likely be euthanized, says Greene. The only way to diagnose infection is to euthanize the suspect animal for testing. "Since rabies is reportable and zoonotic, a veterinarian in (your state) would need preapproval for Public Health Services to ship the specimen for testing," Greene says. Depending on where the testing is done, it take about two hours to complete and costs approximately $75-150. Again, people who have been exposed must receive a series of preventive immu- nizations (though recognize that recom- mendations might differ for people who have been given previous post-exposure dosing; be sure to tell a doctor if you've been treated before). The vaccines are relatively painless and given in the arm, similar to a flu or tetanus vaccine. But don't worry; unless a person is sick with rabies, he or she can't transmit the dis- ease to another human. Take-Away Message Rabies is a scary disease because it can manifest in many nonspecific ways and is always fatal within a few days of clinical signs becoming apparent. It's common sense to avoid wildlife that's acting strangely, but jumping to the aid of any horse, regardless of possible health risks, can be tempting for horse owners. Be cautious, and remember that rabies is easily preventable if you have your horse vaccinated each year according to AAEP recommendations, as well as your com- panion animals and livestock. h AAEP Vaccination Recommendations The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) lists the rabies vaccine as a core vaccination for all equids. Most state health departments require that licensed veterinarians administer rabies vaccinations and record them in a horse's vaccination history (in the event of exposure, this will dictate whether they consider a horse appropriately vaccinated). The AAEP recommends vaccinating the following classes of horses accordingly. Adult horses ■ If they've been vaccinated previously against rabies: Revaccinate annually; ■ If they have not been vaccinated against rabies or if their vaccination history is unknown: Administer a single dose followed by annual revaccination. Pregnant mares ■ If they've been vaccinated previously against rabies: Vaccinate four to six weeks before foaling. Alternatively, veterinarians might recommend vaccination before breeding to reduce the number and type of vaccines administered prior to foaling. ■ If they haven't been vaccinated previously or their vaccination history is unknown: Vac- cinate four to six weeks before foaling. Foals ■ If they're out of mares that have been vaccinated prior to foaling: Administer the first dose no earlier than 6 months of age, with a second dose four to six weeks later and then annual revaccination. ■ If their dams haven't been vaccinated: Administer according to vaccine label instructions, with the first dose at 3 to 4 months of age and then annual revaccination. ■ If their dams have an unknown vaccination history: Follow one of two options. 1. Assume the mare to be antibody-positive, and follow the recommendations for foals of vaccinated mares (above), or 2. Document the foal's rabies antibody status by testing serum collected from him 24 hours or more after birth or from the dam following foaling. If the foal or mare is rabies- antibody-negative, follow the recommendations for nonvaccinated mares (above). If the mare or foal is rabies-antibody-positive, follow the recommendations for foals of mares known to have been vaccinated prior to the foal's birth.—Diane Rice For more information and statistics on rabies, visit TheHorse.com/topics/ rabies, avmajournals.avma.org/doi/ abs/10.2460/javma.253.12.1555, or cdc.gov/rabies.

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