This subject is important as it could be called financial loss prevention or pain and suffering prevention.
Prevention of disease boils down into two categories. Primary prevention includes vaccination, good nutrition and avoiding other horses with disease (quarantine). Secondary prevention involves removing causes such as stress from over crowding, removing sources of fly breeding and cleaning up filthy environments.
Disease prevention requires planning and playing by rules. When laziness and short cuts occur then disease is more likely. All diseased horses are associated with pain and suffering both for the horse and the owner. It also cost money to fix or in the worst case, it causes the loss of the investment (purchase, maintenance and training). Don’t be lazy = save money plus enjoy the horse and sport.
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The Coggins Test diagnoses the presence of a past infection of the non-infectious disease called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) caused by a retrovirus of the same name in horses. It is commonly called “Swamp Fever” which debilitates the horse with a high fever, anemia, limb swelling and often death. Some horses get a less severe form that causes recurring fever, weight loss, anemia and swelling of the limbs and sheath. Surviving horses will be exercise intolerant due to the chronic anemia and fever will come and go without cause. They will also become a reservoir that can become the source of infection to other horses.
I love the word “entropy” because it applies to everyone and everything in the horse world as well as the whole world. It means a gradual decline from order to disorder. It applies to horse farms and horse health alike. It requires the continuous application of energy to maintain order.
Medicating horses has become easy in an age where pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are abundant. Unfortunately their use circumvents two things. The first is the removal of the cause of the problem they are being medicated for. The second is not realizing the side effects of the medication.
Pastures are shrinking and the number of horses per pasture are increasing. This leads to a sanitation problem where horses are eating where they defecate. Rather than resolve the sanitation, medicines were created that killed a lot of parasites but allowed for the development of strains that were resistant to the medications.
Finding the source of infection and stopping it there often is more efficient than treating the horse after he becomes sick. This includes quarantine of new horses added to the herd.
The bottom line here for horse vaccinations is to do them for diseases that will kill your horse, do them judiciously if you need protection (open versus closed herds), avoid diseases by quarantining new arrivals and shake the vaccine like crazy before injecting them.
Every horse has the potential to carry with it diseases that no other horse wants to get. To prevent the spread of diseases that could have devastating effects on the visiting community of horses, the federal government set up a process of inspecting every horse that ships across state lines.