Germs Know No Boundaries: Vaccinate for Equine Influenza in Border States

Horse owners along the border states of Mexico should make sure that their horses are vaccinated against equine influenza virus (EIV) because the virus is prevalent in that country, according to new research.

Unfortunately, germs know no boundaries, and vaccination is not routinely done in some areas of Mexico, according to Bradley J. Blitvich, PhD, of Iowa State University in Ames. Blitvich and his colleagues examined how prevalent EIV is in northeast and southern Mexico and found that the virus was pretty common among horses there.

They collected blood samples from 242 horses (114 horses in northern Mexico and 128 horses in southern Mexico) to test for antibodies to EIV. All of the horses were from ranches and farms that did not vaccinate against EIV. Overall, 94 (39%) horses tested positive (58% of those tested in northern Mexico and 22% in southern Mexico).

"It is very important that horse owners in the border states continue to vaccinate their horses against equine influenza virus,” said Blitvich. "Vaccination is not routinely performed in some areas of northern Mexico, and consequently equine influenza virus is a common cause of infection in horses in this region of Mexico.” He added that it would only be a matter of time until outbreaks occurred in the border states "if we become complacent about the importance of routine vaccination."

Researchers at Iowa State University and The Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico, collaborated on the study, which was conducted because little is known about the impact of influenza on equine health in Mexico. In fact, this is the first study in 20 years to investigate the incidence of equine influenza virus infections in horses in Mexico, according to Blitvich.

The study, "Seroprevalence of equine influenza virus in northeast and southern Mexico," was published in May in the Veterinary Record.

The abstract is available on PubMed

About the Author

Marie Rosenthal, MS

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