AAEP Emphasizes Importance of Rabies Vaccines

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) stresses the importance of vaccinating horses to protect against rabies, a deadly but preventable neurological disease, as it recognizes the World Rabies Day on Sept. 28.

The AAEP strongly recommends an annual rabies vaccine as a "core" vaccination for horses. Core vaccinations, as identified by the American Veterinary Medical Association, are vaccines "that protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease."

Rabies is caused by a lyssavirus affecting the neurological system and salivary glands. Exposure to horses most commonly occurs through the bite of another infected (rabid) animal, typically a raccoon, skunk, bat, or fox. Clinical signs of rabies are variable and may take up to 12 weeks to appear after the initial infection. Although affected horses are sometimes asymptomatic, an infected horse can show behavioral changes, such as drowsiness, depression, fear, or aggressiveness. Once clinical signs appear, there are no treatment options.

Veterinary professionals and industry organizations in 135 countries are hosting rabies vaccinations clinics and client education events leading up to the Sept. 28 event. Founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a United Kingdom-based charity, the World Rabies Day initiative brings together relevant partners in an effort to address rabies prevention and control. Through these events, an estimated 5 million animals around the world will receive rabies vaccinations.

For complete AAEP Vaccination Guidelines and instructions on properly vaccinating your horse for rabies, visit aaep.org/core_vaccinations.htm. For more information about World Rabies Day, visit worldrabiesday.org.

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