Poll: Majority of TheHorse.com Readers Vaccinate Against WNV

More than 1,270 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "Do you vaccinate for West Nile virus annually?"

results of poll on West Nile virus

Results were as follows: 
  • Yes 88.10% (1,125)
  • No 11.90% (152)

Readers shared their reasoning in the comments below.

Poll sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health

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  • In Florida our horses are probably already have natural immunity
  • I live in the Mid-West and my vet does West Nile twice a year.
  • the vaccine is MUCH cheaper that treating the disease
  • There have been cases in neighboring towns.
  • don't need too
  • We live next to a pond and a reservoir.
  • Because I have diagnosed it in our area
  • West Nile occurs in our area - why take the chance?
  • I did not until the first cases were reported in my state, OR. It's too nasty to take a chance.
  • preventive medicine
  • Place is mosquito central and we are a test site for the health dept. It's here.
  • I actually vaccinate for WNV every 6 months and rabies annually.
  • Vaccination are cheap insurance
  • My older horses have reacted to vaccine in the past.
  • To prevent West Niles.
  • Lots of mosquitoes in Ohio - want to protect my horse
  • There has been west nile cases in our region.
  • Recommended by local vet
  • mosquitos! preventative maintenance
  • We have TONS of mosquitos here and have had human cases comfirmed already in the area
  • I dont want to take the chance of loosing our horses even when we lived in the mountains we vaccina
  • In northwest FL, we do this twice a year.
  • It's one of the #1 killers in our area.
  • Recommended by vet
  • Although not in our immediate area, have been cases in our general area.
  • the first year our small farm used none of our 7 settled. The West Nile was the only thing different
  • We live in an area with lots of mosuito's and birds
  • Not present in my country (New Zealand)
  • veterinarian recommends
  • According to our vet, the vaccine works well and is important.
  • I do vaccinate for west nile because it has been in our area
  • lots of cases in this area. best protection choice
  • A creek borders our property and I don't take chances with my horses.
  • I want to make sure that my horses are protected
  • cheaper to vaccinate than to treat
  • Why risk it? Its cheap compared to the cost of treating a ailing horse with West Nile
  • horses react badly
  • I feel it is not a nessacery vaccine for my pony
  • because it is cheaper than burying your beloved horse! Why wouldn't you???
  • It test positive in birds in our area every year
  • too expensive
  • WHY NOT!
  • Here in west Australia we dont have west nile virus, only injections given are strangles & Tetenus.
  • Preventative, better safe than sorry
  • horses are affected w. or w/o vaccine. 1 almost died from vaccine
  • several cases of disease were in area where we live
  • have seen to many horses get it and don't want to take the chance.
  • twice yearly
  • vaccinate every 6 months-live in Florida
  • west nile is only 7 years old as a vaccine,
  • every 6 months
  • I want my 26 year old horse to be safe, since we have wet areas behind the property and dense woods
  • Not helpful against natural exposure
  • I have 6 horses on Pasture and feel it is too risky to ignore WN.
  • lots of mosquitos
  • cannot afford not too my horse is too precious
  • just the young/ competition horses
  • price
  • high prevalence of mosquitos and WNV in my area during spring/summer; wetlands on my property
  • I live in an area that has mosquitoes and several cases were detected
  • because it can be fatal
  • My vet told me not to unless he notifies me
  • I vaccinate because too many horses died in my area when West Nile started a few years ago.
  • If your horse has a healthy immu. system he can get through WNV with no prob!
  • havent before but with the rain falling here at a very high rate i'm calling my vet very soon!
  • Vet Recommendation
  • Too expensive
  • I vaccinate twice per year because I live in an at-risk area.
  • Live in mosquito territory!!
  • cheaper to vaccinate than to treat
  • We live in the NW high mosquito population state and county does not control proper
  • couple creeks near by
  • There have been horses in my area that died from it.
  • I vaccinate semi-annually.
  • better to be safe than sorry
  • by now my horses have been bitten by enough infected mosquitoes to be naturally immune from Florida
  • many cases in my county
  • When WN first hit our area vaccine not widely available--they got it and are now immune
  • horses in our area have died from this disease
  • depends on the value of the horse
  • Stallions & geldings get it annually. Mares get initial dose as wngl only, followed by a booster.
  • How many dead birds have you seen lately. I believe th ones that lived thru the1st epidemic are imm
  • Have to! Must protect my horse!
  • i dont vanccinate 4 WNV
  • I live in the high desert of CA and we do not have mesquitos.
  • WN is the only one they all get because it's so fatal if contracted
  • Because my veterinarian reccomends it.
  • I have heard of problems with the mare carrying a foal.
  • simple common sense for heath and to avoid potentially unnecesary vet bills.
  • I don't take chances with my horses' health!
  • why take the chance
  • did vaccinate while on the mainland; no WNV in Newfoundland
  • Do we have that in Europe?
  • consequences of disease are worse than any risk/cost of vaccine
  • not in endemic area
  • preventive, cost
  • Lost 1 to WN the first year
  • cheaper to prevent than to cure later
  • Vaccinations are actually detrimental to immune systems, so the fewer the better.
  • twice a year because I live in the south
  • Yes, only if the vet suggests a threat of West Nile in my area
  • My horse is OLD - challenge to a new vaccine could kill him.
  • There have been many horse deaths in this area due to West Nile over the past 3 years.
  • high risk area
  • South Jersey's weather is a perfect set up for the virus, an ounce of prevention!
  • we live in mosquito land,usa
  • live in mosquito land
  • An ounce of prevention is worth it!
  • Absolutely! The cost isn't worth the risk.
  • Increasingly spreading virus, need protection.
  • not an issue anymore
  • We have a pond with many mosquitos and why not?
  • It hit our area in 2002, we had 3 of 5 get it. All recovered, no residual problems.
  • expensive shot
  • horse is turned out with other horses on acrage that is near woods
  • There is a lot of stagnant water in our area so I think it is wise to vacinate for West Niles.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
  • A vet told me even though a horse has been vaccinnated it still could get west nile also i dont beli
  • no local cases
  • Absolutely
  • Saw horse severely ill from reaction
  • For the betterment of my animals' health.
  • yes because it's cheaper to buy the vaccine than it is to treat the disease.
  • to expensive
  • It has mostly run its course -Horses/dogs/people have now been exposed, & developed natural immunity
  • We have woods around our turnout areas.Mosquitoes are not a huge issue but it is better to be safe
  • It is less expensive that the vet bill would cost if my horses came down with WNV!
  • Best to try and prevent the disease that treat it and possibly lose your horses.
  • plenty of mosquitos here
  • Twice a year. Our farm is near a stream and swampy area.
  • Many mosquitos.
  • My vet changed over to the annual shots last year.
  • We live close to the Colorado river so misquitos are everywhere. Why take a chance?
  • On my vets reccomendation
  • I've seen it's effects up close & personal.
  • Had birth defects first year I used it
  • you never know when its around
  • We have had multiple cases of equine deaths from WNV in my small town. Vaccination is critical.
  • Living in NorthEastern PA it is a necessity!
  • but not every 4 months. IMO it's overkill!
  • Yes it has been seen in MA
  • why take the chance
  • Is that even a question?
  • 2x/year, once in spring, boosted at height of mosquito season
  • Have immune compromised horse in WNV affected area.
  • my gelding had it 10 years agao and survived. now i am very careful!
  • We've got terrible mosquitoes all summer long - wouldn't risk not vaccinating for WNV
  • It is a very serious and costly illness for horse and horse owner
  • I've seen a video of a horse with it, not a pretty death
  • I am an epidemiologist
  • SEMI ANNUALLY
  • every other year.
  • I want to protect and do every thing for my horse that I can.
  • better safe than sorry
  • i vaccinate semi-annually
  • there had been cases in our area. Also a lot of mosquitos in our area
  • I've seen horses with WNV. Worth the vaccination to protect my horse.
  • Because my vet says it is vital to the health of my horses
  • Why take the risk of NOT doing it???
  • to AVOID THE DISEASE...
  • Our farm is located next to a river.
  • Actually in Florida 4 times a year
  • yes, lots of mosquitoes in my area; re: the last poll, EEE is a far more deadly disease than WNV!
  • an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
  • Because if the owners knew I could and didn't, I wouldn't have a valid reason not to have!
  • preventive maintenance
  • I live in central Fla where the rains bring lots of mosquitos
  • Definitely! Why would one not?!?!
  • Know horses who have had this. People, too. Will always vaccinate.
  • Vet recommended it for our area.
  • It is better to be safe than sorry
  • Even tho I live in the AZ desert we have heavy summer (monsoon) rains - & mosquitos!
  • Very prevelant in my area
  • if its a partculary wet hot summer I might vaccinate 3 times
  • they say to...
  • This is on the top of my list for vaccinations
  • I believe it is cheap insurance for my horse and myself. I like to be proactive rather reactive.
  • It is a relatively inexpensive procedure to protect a major investment.
  • I would rather be proactive than reactive because this area has a lot of WNV.
  • 5 of 6 get vaccinated, but one is allergic to the vaccine
  • Protection
  • Why take a chance!!!
  • Because it's there- and MY horse is priceless!!
  • cause I live in skeeter country
  • I live in Illinois, where the virus is now endemic. My friend's horse almost died from it!
  • New England
  • no cases here
  • I don't live in a high risk area...we are overvaccinating our horses these days.
  • I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to WNV. Bug pop. vary from year to year.
  • a small price to pay for preventing it
  • My vet recommends it.
  • Outbreaks in our adjacent town!
  • adverse vacine reactions, no reported cases in our area the last 2 yrs. and no vet
  • we have lots of pesky mosquitoes which could be carriers!
  • Living on the gulf coast, mosquitoes are a given
  • Semi-annually (F.D. killed vaccine) for our area, per vet and UC Davis
  • Cause some help is better than none
  • lost a mare to wnv, never want to see that again
  • This disease is carried here by fly over birds and is picked up by misquitos.
  • My vet does not feel it's important.
  • Vaccines are cheaper than treatments!
  • Prevention is the best medicine
  • it's highly prevalent in E TN
  • I vaccinate 2x/yr
  • vet recommendation
  • Do I vaccinate? Why not?
  • All 9 of my horses are being done annualy.
  • Horses and people in our area have been infected.
  • twice yearly
  • They get it when the vet gives them their annual shots
  • I use lots of skeeter & fly spray, we do not have a problem with it here
  • not proven safe in my opinion w/regard to fertility
  • absolutely. It's inexpensive and relatively effective. Why wouldn't you vaccinate?
  • vaccines damage the immune system
  • Who DOESN'T???
  • SE Idaho has had many cases of West Nile confirmed
  • cost effective
  • cases in our area.
  • endemic in the area now
  • I think if you don't you are asking for trouble
  • Semi-Annually, actually because of year 'round threat in FL
  • we have lots of mosquitoes, and the occasional case of WNV in humans as well as horses
  • All vaccinations are for prevention!
  • Actually, I vaccinate all the horses in my care every six months. The swamp of VA has many mosquito
  • Prevention is the key to good health for horses and people.
  • it is in the bird population in my area and it is not possible to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Because that's what the vet recommends.
  • twice a year for my horses
  • required by my barn. Would do anyway because of area.
  • twice yearly in our area - due to high vector exposure
  • Are you kidding? In mosquitoe city???
  • Used to vax every 6 months until Preve Nile came along
  • I had a horse that foundered and almost died from the vaccine
  • There is no reason not to vaccinate!
  • It is endemic in my county. I vaccinate semi-annuakky because we have mosquitos present year around.
  • large mosquito population
  • Lots of wildlife including birds in SC
  • I live on the Gulf Coast. I vaccinate TWICE a year-every 6 months.
  • In Southern Ca it is a Must
  • Too expensive!
  • ABSOLUTELY. Kootenay mosquitoes, yikes they're everywhere!
  • I believe many vaccines are overdone and do harm...
  • Horses die from it.
  • precaution. we have mosquitoes
  • I don't want to take any chances of my horse getting west nile
  • Every three years like all other vaccines.
  • we have mosquitoes which carry the disease in the area.
  • 2 times a year
  • Several horses in my county have had WN
  • Living in central FL. WNV active in area.
  • Why take any chances.
  • I wait until after breeding my mares.
  • I do what I feel is necessary to keep this "buddy" of mine as healthy as I can
  • Advised by my vet
  • Suggested by vet due to area.
  • I don't believe it is necessary for geldings and we don't have a lot of it around where I live.
  • Every other year.Titer stays high. No need to over vaccinate
  • We have too many mosquitoes during the summer to ignore this virus
  • It is found in my region of central California.
  • I vaccinate every 6 months.
  • prevalent in area, it's deadly
  • my vet says NO unless it is an issue in your area.
  • because its' he-r-e!
  • No, horse has reactions to vaccines. I give nosodes (homeopathic)
  • Every six months.
  • Because we have had several known cases in the area
  • not many cases in Oregon, yet.
  • And a six month booster
  • easier and cheaper to vaccinate than to treat
  • actually semi annually as we have mosquitos year round in S. Texas
  • Rather be safe than sorry.
  • I had a vaccinated horse die, then received some interesting test results from a vet
  • The cost of the shot is minor next to the cost of a sick horse
  • A few dollars now could save me hundreds in the future
  • Vet recommendation
  • No cases in my area. I have given it in the past
  • Not using my horses for genie pigs
  • We have misquitoes
  • I vaccinate every 6 months
  • why not!
  • Every six months
  • I live in Florida, lots of mosquitos
  • better to be safer than sorrier
  • West Nile is prevelant in my area.
  • was prevelant in MI & also KY when we moved here in 09/01
  • Because there have been reported cases in the area and my vet recommends vaccinating.
  • Have seen the results of this virus first hand!
  • I do now since I've had it once!
  • sortof It was due October and I am alittle behind the ball. I plan on doing it July 3rd
  • We have had equine cases in my area and my farm happens to include a 5 acre lake.
  • bi annually we live in AZ
  • Don't want to take a chance. A nephew lost an expensive roping horse to WNV
  • We live in Florida - lots of mosquitos!
  • Have had documented WNV deaths here in TX therefore the benefits of immunizing far outweigh the risk
  • Vet recommendation for my area
  • We use the Prevnile once a year vaccine
  • to avoid contracting the disease
  • actually 2X a year
  • Because we have mosquitos that can bite our horses.
  • Twice a year here in Alabama. My vet says death by West Nile is awful.
  • started when it was experimental vac
  • We actually vac. biannually
  • can't buy the vaccine
  • It's not necessary
  • Vet recommendation
  • Past reactions/ immunity - low numbers according to gov disease maps ( 1 case to date for 2009)
  • West Nile exists in Texas
  • absolutely do every year!!
  • lots of mosquitoes here
  • Have mosquitos will vaccinate!
  • To keep my horse as healthy as possible.
  • too expensive. I give vaccines myself
  • I live in FL with year-round mosquitoes
  • to keep our horses protected
  • If a vaccinated horse is exposed, the illness is treatable. Unvaccinated horses most often die.
  • not worth it not too, love our horses
  • MN-Land of 10,000 lakes!
  • lots of "skeeters" in TX, my vet highly recommends
  • It is endemic to our area
  • Vet says it's a must
  • Twice a year due to heavy mosquito population where we live.
  • My friend was one of the first in the area to lose a horse to WNV.
  • I live in Florida!
  • No, it's not a rapidly mutating virus so why continually revaccinate? Money grab.
  • Yes, of course. I do mainly because WNV is prominant in our area.
  • We have had WN cases in our area.
  • We have it in the area
  • I can't replace my horse for the price of a shot.
  • No, Cost, and we do not seem to have a problem in SW Missouri.

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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