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Infectious diseases

There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your horse. For many of these conditions, such as influenza and tetanus, there is a simple protection in the form of vaccination. Ensuring that your horse completes an initial course of vaccinations and then receives regular booster jabs is important if you want to keep your horse fit and healthy.

Equine influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the upper and lower respiratory tract of the horse, caused by different strains of influenza virus. It can be caught through contact with an infected horse or indirectly by contaminated environments or air. Equine influenza spreads rapidly therefore vaccination is essential.

Tetanus is caused by a neurotoxin found in soil that enters the horse's bloodstream, usually via an open wound. Even small wounds, including puncture wounds allow contamination, and because the incubation period is 7-21 days, the wound has usually healed by the time the first signs of the disease are apparent. Tetanus can be a fatal disease, therefore vaccination is essential to protect your horse.

There are other infectious diseases for which there is no vaccine. We are fortunate in the UK that most infectious diseases not covered by vaccinations are relatively rare. However, if you are taking your horse abroad you need to be aware that there are some nasty diseases like West Nile virus and Equine Herpes virus that your horse may be exposed to.

Many parasitic diseases also affect horses and these can be picked up from apparently healthy animals and preventative healthcare can be beneficial to protect your horse from worms, equine flu and other potential diseases. Your vet will be able to advise you on what products you need to buy to keep your horse healthy.