Beware of Rabies

There is absolutely no reason for a horse owner not to vaccinate a horse against rabies.

Numerous states already this year have reported rabies in a variety of domestic and wildlife species. Horses get rabies. Humans get rabies. As we know, horses are nosey, and if a weird-acting animal were to appear in a pasture, horses would likely investigate, especially if the intruder showed no fear. And of course the first thing a curious horse does is put its nose closer and closer to the thing it's investigating. BITE! Then, at some point after the encounter, the horse appears to be choking or neurologic, and we, as the caring owners and friends of owners, handle the horse and investigate the horse's mouth barehanded. Rabies is transmitted through contact with saliva. The horse doesn't have to bite you. Rabies is 100% fatal. There are effective rabies vaccines for horses, often combined into one vaccine that can be part of your regular vaccination program. There is absolutely no reason for a horse owner not to vaccinate a horse against rabies. For more rabies tips see the AAEP Forum on page 24 and register on for our upcoming free Webinar about rabies on Sept. 25. This Webinar is part of the World Rabies Day educational events.

Avoiding Other Diseases

Roberta Dwyer, DVM, is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine who works at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center. Her article on page 28 discusses how to protect yourself from getting some of the diseases that your horse can contract:

  • Obtain appropriate vaccinations for horses and for people.
  • Isolate any horse with neurologic signs and call a veterinarian; avoid touching the horse's saliva.
  • Handle horses or foals with diarrhea only while wearing protective clothing and gloves.
  • Implement mosquito and insect control strategies to reduce vector-borne diseases.
  • Immunocompromised individuals should consult their health care professional about specific concerns with any horses and other animals in their care.
  • And, just like your mother said, "Wash your hands before eating or drinking!"

Along those lines, if you haven't had the opportunity to watch one of's Webinars, go into the webinar archives and watch the most recent one on disease prevention. You'll get an hourlong video lecture from Josie Traub-Dargatz, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Colorado State University, on how to protect your horses from disease and what to do if a disease gets on your property.

Just go to From there you'll see the list of archived and upcoming events, including disease prevention.

Among the tips you'll learn:

  • Drying your hands is nearly as important as washing them properly.
  • Don't dunk the end of your water hose in each bucket as you are filling it in the barn or field; that's a great way to spread disease.
  • Separate horses that are new to your herd or have been traveling and check their temperatures twice daily for two weeks.

There's more, and it's free thanks to sponsor Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

If you haven't visited recently, there are many new educational opportunities. In September we will launch four new monthly electronic newsletters on nutrition, lameness/laminitis, preventive medicine, and breeding. They will be free, bringing information straight to your inbox. Sign up today!

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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