A pointed reminder for horse owners

VETERINARIANS are reminding local horse owners to take preventative measures against infectious equine diseases.

The warning comes after a national survey found thousands of horse owners had let vaccinations lapse.

The national horse survey involved more than 3500 people from around Australia and showed of the 96 per cent of owners who supported protection against infectious diseases, a third had not been consistent with vaccinations.

Bomaderry Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Neal Johnson said despite vaccine price increases over the years, it was a cost owners should wear.

“Prevention of disease is better than cure, especially when diseases like Hendra have the potential to be fatal for horses and humans,” he said.

“Horses act as an amplifier of the Hendra virus, which can then be passed on to people. Vaccinating against the disease not only protects your horse, but protects yourself.”

An outbreak of the Hendra virus in south-east Queensland in early March forced horse owners and vets in northern parts of Australia to make hard decisions.

Many horse owners have said they couldn’t afford the Hendra vaccination in the current economic climate and lobbied for a government subsidy.

Some Queensland vets said treating unvaccinated horses was too big a threat.

Dr Johnson said there were some shows and breeders who will refuse to accept unvaccinated horses.

“They are just trying to protect horses and people against potential outbreaks,” he said.

April is vaccination month and Dr Johnson said it was about preventing the spread of all equine diseases including tetanus, strangles and equine herpes.

“Equine herpes is more for people in the equine breeding industry. It causes respiratory issues and can also cause abortions in pregnant mares,” he said.

“Tetanus and strangles are certainly something every horse owner should [vaccinate against], particularly if that horse comes into contact with other horses.”

Tetanus vaccinations should be administered every second year and strangles every year.

Olympic equestrian silver medallist Megan Jones has joined the call for horse owners to protect against potentially fatal diseases.

“I work with horses every day and can’t over-emphasise the importance of vaccination against these devastating diseases,” Ms Jones said.

“Organising vaccination takes just a few minutes and it certainly beats the potential alternative – having to treat your horse for a painful equine disease.”

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