Horse Vaccines Are Not Necessary
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Feb 2015   •   2,370 views   •   0 comments
Horse Vaccines Are Not Necessary

If youíve been paying attention to the news media recently, youíve probably heard about the vaccination debate. And, you might have heard or read about anti-vaxxers. While most of the population does not question that we need vaccinations to protect us from deadly or debilitating diseases, anti-vaxxers believe that our greater understanding of hygiene and diet, the strength of our own immune systems, and an overall low risk of getting these diseases make vaccinations against measles, whooping cough, polio, smallpox and other diseases unnecessary.

Many also believe that the ingredients used to carry the either live or dead viruses used in vaccines are toxic. They believe that vaccinations do more harm than good. Many anti-vaxxers believe that autism, a developmental disorder that starts early in childhood and is characterised by impaired communication and social behaviors, amongst other things, is caused by vaccines. Despite studies that have disproved this theory, itís still a common argument against vaccinations.

There are anti-vaxers in the horse world as well. They believe that vaccinations are unnecessary, and in some cases harmful to their horses. The biggest outcry was when the West Nile Virus vaccine was first released and blamed on what looked like severe reactions after the vaccine was given. There certainly could have been some horses that reacted adversely to the vaccine, but most of the information you see online is anecdotal. Horses, with or without vaccines, do become sick, foals are born deformed and broodmares lose foals. The internet makes it easy to say, hey - that happened to someone I know too. And suddenly, you have a flood of stories that seem connected, but may not be. So itís important to take what you read online with a grain of salt.

Related: Which Vaccinations Does Your Horse Really Need
Related: 10 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Horse
Related: EHV-1 Symptoms and Outbreak Locations
Related: Horse in Texas Team Roping Competition Tested Positive for Rabies

Equine anti-vaxxers also argue that many of the diseases that we vaccinate against arenít a problem anymore. What they forget, is they donít exist, or are less of a danger because vaccinations have been successful. When you donít vaccinate your horse, youíre relying on something called Ďherd immunityí to keep it safe. Herd immunity occurs when 80% of the population is vaccinated. This keeps the incidence of the disease down, so that the other 20% is more or less safe. Basically, youíre riding the coat tails of someone elseís good choices.

Equine anti-vaxxers believe that vaccinations overload or over-stimulate the horseís immune system and cause long term neurological or allergy problems. We have to remember that our own, and our horseís immune system is being assaulted every day by the dirt and germs around us. Thereís no evidence that a well planned vaccination regime over stimulates the immune system. Over-vaccination is possible, and thatís why we have to learn what vaccines are appropriate and when they should be given.

Some believe since their horses never go anywhere, they donít need vaccinations. But, your horse doesnít have to leave its pasture to get tetanus, things like EE and WNV are mosquito borne, and Potomac Horse Fever is carried by aquatic insects like dragon flies and snails.

And of course, vaccinations are expensive. This may be true. But a vaccination wonít be as expensive as the vet bill will be if your horse has to suffer through something like tetanus. And, itís hard to imagine the fear and heartbreak you will suffer, along with the pain and suffering of the animal if your horse gets something like rabies - which is still common in wildlife, or Equine Encephalomyelitis.

So while itís wise to be cautious about what vaccines you give your horse, becoming a complete equine anti-vaxxer might not be the best route either.
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