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Early this year there was an outbreak of equine flu, with even the racing industry temporarily cancelling all racing until they could establish how widespread the issue was. There were calls for everyone to make sure their horses were vaccinated and give them a booster if they hadn’t been vaccinated in the last 6 months.
5 months on and the risk is still high, with new cases of flu being reported every month. There have already been at least 5 cases diagnosed this month and we are only on day 5! Two of the horses diagnosed this month have been vaccinated within the last 6 months.
I have seen a lot of people complaining on social media about having to vaccinate there horses every 6 months to be able to compete at their local venues, their argument being that it doesn’t stop horses catching flu. But all the vets have said that the more recently your horse was vaccinated, the less symptoms they have, meaning your horse is more comfortable.
It seems like this strain of flu is going to be around for a while yet and while the vaccination alone may not stop your horse coming down with flu, are you comfortable letting your horse suffer if you could have done something small and easy to prevent it?
Scottie had a booster in February, even though he was lame and out of work. Next month I will need to think about giving him another one. While he is still out of work and certainly won’t be out competing any time soon, I will be giving him another booster. Because several horses on my yard are regularly out competing and could easily bring something back with them, despite me trusting their owners to follow good bio security procedures.
Just because equine flu isn’t often serious in a fit and healthy horse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to do everything you can to protect your horse from it. After all, they will be uncomfortable and distressed and will likely be lacking performance for a while after recovering. If a simple vaccination can make them more comfortable and help them return to their best quicker, why wouldn’t you?
If you haven’t given your horse a vaccination in the past 6 months I highly recommend talking to your vets. Many of them will say if you aren’t out competing and there is much movement of horses on your yard that you probably don’t need one. They aren’t just trying to steal your money!