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Strangles vaccine?!

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  • Strangles vaccine?!

    Okay so there is a strangles outbreak in my area, and there are so many mixed opinions on the strangles vaccine! Of course this is the year I've decided to start participating in clinics too, I already have a clinic coming up next month, and one that I'm hoping to attend shortly after that.

    My mare has had the vaccine in the past.

    Here is where it gets complicated. I board at a busy lesson barn. They go to shows, clinics, etc. However the barn owner has spoken to her vet and is strongly encouraging everyone to NOT get the vaccine. She said there's a risk of them getting strangles from the vaccine and being contagious after the vaccine as well so other horses could catch it from them. She said if my vet recommends getting it or I'm super adamant about vaccinating my mare against strangles, I have to talk to her and put a plan in place (quarantine my mare and take other precautions).

    Normally I'd be like "okay, she doesn't want me to get that vaccine, sure no problem".

    However the barn owner of the clinic I'm attending strongly believes in the strangles vaccine and said absolutely no horses are allowed on her property unvaccinated. So you see my issue here, I'm torn right down the middle here. I'm unsure of the vaccine requirements of the other clinic as of now.

    So there's people saying to get it, people saying not to, people saying it would be just plain stupid to travel anywhere at the moment without the vaccine. What do I do?!?!

    I'm going to talk to my vet as soon as I can get ahold of him, and maybe get another vets opinion too, but I just want to be as informed as possible before making this decision.

    Clinics are not as important as the health of my mare, that is a top priority. I was looking forward to a great year of clinics though!

  • #2
    I would consult your vet and ask their advice. I believe you may be able to test for antibodies/immunity--or they swab the guttural pouch or something. You may have other ways to determine your horses risk or immunity. If your BO is going to shows traveling without strangles vax...I think they are...taking enormous risk myself. Strangles is @#$% nasty and requires soooo much supportive care. If the get sick with it----then they can definitely go on to be a carrier/shedder of the infection like a Typhoid Mary. I've given the intra-nasal Strangles vaccine for over 10 years to every horse without any adverse effect...other than they don't care for the squirt up the nose.

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    • #3
      We do a blood test for strangles antibodies every year or two. If the antibodies are high, no vaccine, as the vaccine is not needed and could cause side effects. If the antibodies are negative or low, we give vaccine.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by AKB View Post
        We do a blood test for strangles antibodies every year or two. If the antibodies are high, no vaccine, as the vaccine is not needed and could cause side effects. If the antibodies are negative or low, we give vaccine.
        Excuse my ignorance, is this called a titer test, like what people do for dogs sometimes? How much does it typically cost you? (I know cost varies in different places). I've actually thought of doing this!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Wintergirl96 View Post

          Here is where it gets complicated. I board at a busy lesson barn. They go to shows, clinics, etc. However the barn owner has spoken to her vet and is strongly encouraging everyone to NOT get the vaccine.
          While the vaccine won't guarantee a horse won't get strangles, I find it very strange that your barn travels heavily but does not vaccinate their horses.

          Originally posted by Wintergirl96 View Post
          She said there's a risk of them getting strangles from the vaccine and being contagious after the vaccine as well so other horses could catch it from them.
          To my knowledge, there is risk of complications if the horse has been recently exposed to strangles during an outbreak and THEN gets the live vaccine. Since your BO travels so much, it's possible their horses have been exposed ... which has now exposed your horse.

          But in general (not during an outbreak) if a horse is getting the "killed" vaccine, that's ridiculous that the BO thinks other horses are going to catch strangles.

          Originally posted by Wintergirl96 View Post

          I'm going to talk to my vet as soon as I can get ahold of him, and maybe get another vets opinion too, but I just want to be as informed as possible before making this decision.
          I do agree the best course of action is to talk with your vet to see what you should do for your area, and your horse.

          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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          • #6
            Talk with your vet. Personally. You are getting second hand info, filtered through your BO, that might not be exactly what the vet said. It is your horse, its been vaccinated before and IMO BO is...misinformed. Or nuts. Little too much control over what in most barns would be reasonable, common sense boarder choices for my tastes. Think about it. Hate barn owners expecting everybody to go along with their whacky pet theories that defy logic.

            Some owners of older horses previously vaccinated annually for years do skip the strangles but not because the vaccine makes them contagious and spread the disease to others. That is, really, nuts.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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            • #7
              Actually, the internasal vaccine is a modified live vaccine--and while it is not supposed to cause strangles, I personally know of an instance where a horse that was vaccinated with the modified live vaccine, and then gave actual strangles to the unvaccinated horses in the barn--so it has happened! There is a killed (injectable) vaccine that would not carry those risks, although it is a hard vaccine on the horse (tendency to have site reactions) In addition, it is a known fact that the intranasal vaccine, if accidentally injected or gotten into a wound on the animal, can cause abcessing at the site.

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              • #8
                re: above. It is more likely the horse was already a carrier/shedder. Horses that look fine, not sick, but were exposed to active infections at some point in past can harbor the staph bacteria that cause it in their guttural pouches. After a barn/horses have been sick it's advised to swab pouches to find any shedders---they can go on to make other horses sick for years and years while never looking ill themselves.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  This is what my vet said when asked about the strangles vaccine! I'm going to talk to my BO tomorrow about it. Since I plan to go off property with my mare this year, and have her stay in other stalls overnight, I'm strongly leaning towards getting the vaccine!

                  The comment about the vaccine giving other horses the disease is commonplace from people who just don't understand vaccines. If it doesn't give the disease to the horses receiving the vaccine, how can it pass the disease to unvaccinated horses? It is a live vaccine but in the industry it is referred to as "Modified Live" , meaning to the body's immune system it "Looks" like the real thing so the body makes antibodies against it, however it can't cause the disease.
                  So if the horse ever is exposed to the disease causing form it all ready has antibodies ready to protect it. The vaccine and the vaccinated horse are NOT A RISK to unvaccinated horses in the barn.

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                  • #10
                    Wintergirl, the antibody test is a strep equi titer. I believe our titers are run by Idexx labs. If the horse has a high titer, my understanding is that the horse should not get vaccine as he is at an increased risk of a reaction. Also, he doesnt need the vaccine.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It sounds like you already have your vet's perspective on this, but these diametrically opposed views on the vaccine seem to be pretty common. One of our area vets, whom I respect very much and use for a second opinion, advocates the IN vaccine for almost all horses. In her experience and in her read of the available literature it is safe and the cost-benefit ratio of side effects makes it advantageous to give the vaccine. My own vet feels very strongly that the cost-benefit ratio is not in the horse's favor and doubts the efficacy of the vaccine, based on results in her practice and her read of the literature.

                      I'm in a similar conflict where strangles has become a mandatory vaccine at my boarding barn (it was not before) and my own vet does not advise my horse receive the vaccine. I've proposed that for next year we draw a titer and vaccinate, or not, based on that; this was recognized as a sensible practice by all parties, and that's what we will do. You might consider this option to give yourself peace of mind that you're doing the right thing, whatever you decide. If your horse's titer shows that the horse is protected, the owner of the clinic farm might accept that and a vet's note saying the vaccine was inadvisable; if it's low, you can vaccinate if you choose to and have confidence in your decision.
                      "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The one time strangles went through our barn it was a relatively mild outbreak, confirmed by the vet. There were a few youngsters who had some abscessing but most of the rest showed mild to no symptoms. BO had her horses vaccinated and required it of the boarders also. At that time there were more than 40 horses on the farm and I can't imagine what it would have been like treating that many horses if they were really sick. The BO did the full quarantine and the kids pitched in cleaning and sanitizing stalls. Every year thereafter on Barn Day the vet asked every owner if their horse was on the farm then before vaccinating.

                        I'm not sure I want my vet doing a cost-benefit ratio for vaccination. How do you determine the value of sick animal suffering with something that could have been prevented with a few bucks worth of vaccine every year? No vaccine is 100% effective, and there will always be reactions and side effects. But some will develop complications from the disease itself that can be life-threatening. This is true for us, our horses, our dogs and our cats.
                        "Providence sometimes takes care of idiots." Agnes Morley Cleaveland, No Life for a Lady, 1977.

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