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Sub-Q Rabies Vaccine, very bad prolonged reaction in older horse

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  • Sub-Q Rabies Vaccine, very bad prolonged reaction in older horse

    Hoping to draw on COTH collective experience here. There seems to be a supply issue with the rabies vaccine my vet usually administers, so they used a different source - which is the same kind they used about 5-6 years prior. This particular vaccine has a tendency to cause a lot of muscle soreness, so because it is also indicated for subcutaneous administration, my vet decided to go that route to save some pain and soreness for our barn.

    ALL the horses got big swollen lumps at the injection site and were tender, but aside from a couple who required one dose of banamine to get through, they all bounced back with no issue.

    Except, of course, my mare. The vaccine was administered last Thursday. Since then her appetite is almost non-existent, she has drunk less than a litre of water on her own, and she is dull and lethargic. Her temperature has remained relatively normal, but has fluctuated up and down by ~1 degree. She got banamine every 12 hours Sat-Mon and has received fluids and electrolytes 3 times. She has eaten perhaps 2 flakes of soaked hay in this time, and picks at bran or alfalfa mashes. She has produced urine and manure (in reduced quantities, as would be expected, but she pees normally especially after receiving fluids), but she simply is not happy, is eating minimally and drinking almost nothing.

    Vet took blood tonight, fingers crossed it gives some guidance because we are stumped. She seems to cycle between looking mostly normal - bright, alert, happy to take a carrot or 2, and completely miserable - lying down, grinding teeth, groaning.

    Mare is a very healthy, fit 19 y/o WB with absolutely no previously known health issues.

    If anyone has had any experiences with this, would really appreciate hearing from you.


  • TXJumper
    replied
    Mine had a horrible reaction from his rabies vaccine this year. Horrible muscle shaking, followed by colic symptoms. It wasn't a true colic - because he was passing stool, and wanted to graze. But he was digging to China and trying to go down. We can only assume it was muscle cramping / spasms in his abdomen. Thank heavens for Banamine. We will NOT be getting a rabies vaccine ever again. I've also found several people who's horses have had the same exact response!

    Leave a comment:


  • Simkie
    replied
    Originally posted by kashmere View Post
    Simkie - wouldn’t you know, today vet agreed ulcer treatment is something to consider. Thanks!
    I hope that's the last step in getting your pretty girl all back to normal!

    Leave a comment:


  • kashmere
    replied
    Simkie - wouldn’t you know, today vet agreed ulcer treatment is something to consider. Thanks!

    Leave a comment:


  • kashmere
    replied
    Simkie Yup, totally. I have been through the ulcer wringer with my other mare and am perhaps too familiar with treatments and protocols Will continue to work with vet and see what treatments are indicated.

    Leave a comment:


  • Simkie
    replied
    It would be easy and cheap enough to start her on something for ulcers--perhaps ranitidine would be a good choice because it won't stress the hind gut like a PPI and is easier to discontinue. Ranitidine also acts quickly.

    Leave a comment:


  • kashmere
    replied
    Originally posted by Simkie View Post
    Apologies if I've missed it, but are you treating her for ulcers? I've seen them present like the "mini colics" you're describing several times.
    Currently not - have discussed with vet and while he agrees symptoms could be consistent with ulcers, the fact that the symptoms presented immediately (within hours) of the vaccine administration, ulcers are not a likely candidate. We will keep them in the list of possible suspects if symptoms continue.

    Next step is likely another fecal, running more blood, perhaps another dose of IV hydration to boost her fluid levels. Her poop is somewhat dry - not alarmingly so to look at, but smaller, slightly harder balls than usual. During her initial rectal exam vet was concerned about the texture and at that point she hadn't really been pooping as much. After her IV fluids last week she had several nice soft normal poops with zero discomfort, and she has been pooping a much more typical amount as she's increased her food and water intake - not every poop seems to cause discomfort, but there is a definite pattern to her being quiet/normal (ish), then looking distressed, looking at her sides, sometimes lying down and groaning, which seems to improve at least somewhat after a poop.

    I appreciate the suggestions though - and I have continued to run everyone's thoughts by my vet. He is always extremely open to questions and suggestions and does take them seriously.

    While we do appear to be continuing overall improvement, I'm sure the dear old gal would appreciate some spare jingles if anyone has any.

    Picture of her very very kissable nose from 6 or so weeks ago to put a face to all the poop anecdotes Click image for larger version

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    Leave a comment:


  • Simkie
    replied
    Apologies if I've missed it, but are you treating her for ulcers? I've seen them present like the "mini colics" you're describing several times.

    Leave a comment:


  • kashmere
    replied
    Originally posted by Wantanother View Post
    OP, You should follow up with the manufacturer of the vaccine used. About 5-6 years ago a number of horses at my barn had an adverse reactions to one of the Fort Dodge vaccines (mine was not involved since she refused to use Fort Dodge) which resulted in several emergency calls to treat them. With the vets assistance, all the owners were reimbursed for their veterinary expenses. If your vet administered the vaccine per the instructions, I think you might be able to seek some kind of financial restitution.

    Glad to hear your horse is recovering.
    My vet has met with them once already and we are going to continue to follow up. He is working to get the aftercare covered for me, as he administered exactly according to instructions. He is very unhappy about this reaction (obviously) and wants to make sure the manufacturer is completely looped in to what's happening.

    As for dear mare:

    Lots of overall improvement continuing, but with continued episodes of discomfort. It's very odd. The "episode" basically looks like a very mini colic - pawing, wanting to lie down, looking at sides, then she poops and seems to feel better afterward. We had another horse who reacted to the vaccine on the day it was administered who had the exact same "episodes" but it happened only twice and then he recovered just fine. Vet back out today to continue investigating

    She is back to drinking on her own - not quite normal amounts but much closer, and with the addition of the soaked mashes we are giving her, she is getting a pretty well normal amount of water daily. More and more interested in food - finishing the small amounts of hay we are giving her and interested in her mashes and soaked hay cubes.

    If it were not for the short episodes of obvious discomfort, I would say we were well out of the woods and onto the recovery phase, but these are concerning. Still, on the whole improved so staying hopeful.

    Leave a comment:


  • DiamondJubilee
    replied
    My vet came out on Saturday to give rabies (Imrab) to all 5 of my ponies ranging in ages from 2 to 23. I gave them bute before the shot and he only administered the rabies today. I was the first of his clients this year to get the rabies, so I was the test.

    He suggested even splitting the shot up as the dose for a horse is 2ml, so he did 1ml on each side of the neck. He gave the pros and cons of course, but I thought that it might be better to adminster it this way.

    Happy to say all ponies were totally fine, no swelling on either side of the neck for any pony and nobody was sore from it. We even lightly drove the pair of ponies the next day, as per our vets advice. We did not notice anything off from the ponies.

    So there is some good news!

    And yes, there was some issues with expiry dates with the equine version of rabies, I actually remember my vet calling me late last year stating this. Giving me the option to re dose since they changed the expiry dating to earlier then they had on their bottles....They must still be having the same issues, so vets have to go back to the general species rabies vaccine...

    Leave a comment:


  • Wantanother
    replied
    OP, You should follow up with the manufacturer of the vaccine used. About 5-6 years ago a number of horses at my barn had an adverse reactions to one of the Fort Dodge vaccines (mine was not involved since she refused to use Fort Dodge) which resulted in several emergency calls to treat them. With the vets assistance, all the owners were reimbursed for their veterinary expenses. If your vet administered the vaccine per the instructions, I think you might be able to seek some kind of financial restitution.

    Glad to hear your horse is recovering.

    Leave a comment:


  • IPEsq
    replied
    Originally posted by Leather View Post
    Had the vet out today for spring shots, and asked about the rabies vaccine.

    She said that the horse-only version is unavailable because the manufacturer had some issues with incorrect expiration dates on the product.

    They've been using Imrab, which is a multi-species vaccine.

    They've seen a higher rate of reactions with the Imrab, but they've been fairly minor reactions (elevated temps, soreness, etc.).
    This is what my vet said too about the reason for unavailability of last year’s vaccine. He was told to look at what he had and subtract at least 6 months from the expiration date. Accurate replacements aren’t out yet. It didn’t sound like it had anything to do with the vaccine not working in general (though maybe it wouldn’t work if it was expired despite the date on the label)?

    Leave a comment:


  • MustangSavvy
    replied
    We have little to no evidence that titers actually correlate with real world immunity. ESPECIALLY regarding rabies. To correlate that we would have to vaccinate a bunch of horses , measure their titers, and then give them rabies to see if they get the disease or not. The body has both cellular and humoral immunity. Titers measure your humoral immune response while many viruses activate the cell mediated immune system. Titers may or may not indicate actual protection. Rabies is not something to mess around and if you choose not to vaccinate, you are putting everyone at risk not just your animals and yourself.

    Leave a comment:


  • Leather
    replied
    Had the vet out today for spring shots, and asked about the rabies vaccine.

    She said that the horse-only version is unavailable because the manufacturer had some issues with incorrect expiration dates on the product.

    They've been using Imrab, which is a multi-species vaccine.

    They've seen a higher rate of reactions with the Imrab, but they've been fairly minor reactions (elevated temps, soreness, etc.).

    Leave a comment:


  • kashmere
    replied
    Originally posted by Chief2 View Post

    OP, I am very sorry you lost your horse.
    Oh, happily I did not It is a slow recovery, but today is the second day I have actually witnessed her drinking with my own eyes!

    She is an older girl (20 on Tuesday) but extremely healthy and fit (in work 5-6 days/week, 1st-2nd level dressage). If she were a less overall healthy horse or frail in any way the outcome could have been rather different. 4 emerg vet visits in one week. Not out of the woods yet but definitely on a much better path.

    Leave a comment:


  • JB
    replied
    When it comes to rabies, I hope very much that we can finally prove - PROVE - that it provides ample protection for horses for even 3 years.

    But when it comes to rabies, I am not remotely willing to take a chance that while titers can indicate a level of possible protection, that it actually DOES provide the level of protection we need to be assured of.

    Why would you take that chance with your horse(s), let alone the people who handle him?

    I'm talking about the normal horse, not the one for whom the vaccine is a bigger risk than the likelihood of contacting a rabid animal.

    Leave a comment:


  • x-halt-salute
    replied
    Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
    I've questioned if it's necessary to give rabies vaccs annually on an older horse. UC Davis says rabies protection usually

    lasts for 2 and up to 3 years. So why do we still give rabies annually?

    https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/...es-vaccination
    Rabies is still recommended annually because that study doesn't provide sufficient evidence to be truly confident in a longer duration of protection. Both because it's a single study with a not-huge sample size, and because it only measured antibody levels (which are just one part of the equation -- whether those antibody levels really effectively translate to immunity is a whole 'nother question). I heard at some point that CSU was doing further study on the question, but that was a couple years ago and I haven't heard anything since so I only hope it's an ongoing project.

    The Davis report does suggest that both younger (<20) and older (>=20) horses may be protected by rabies vaccination for longer than a year ... but the evidence isn't conclusive enough that it would tempt me to vaccinate a healthy horse less frequently for rabies. However, for a horse who's had life-threatening vaccine reactions in the past, and with the unavailability of a rabies vacc they had tolerated without such reactions, it would (does) tempt me to talk to a vet about the risk management pros/cons of skipping a year in the hopes of avoiding another dangerous reaction.

    Leave a comment:


  • x-halt-salute
    replied
    Originally posted by Chief2 View Post
    Our own vet explained that the previously used vaccine was recalled due to being not as effective and the Merial replaces that vaccine for this year. The vets are seeing a lot of adverse reactions with this, which was the case 5 or 6 years ago with it as well, and until the ineffective vaccine issue is resolved the Merial is the one they will have to continue to use. His advice was to bute the horse an hour or so before vaccinating with this vaccine and keep an eye on the horse afterwards. Originally the fed wanted the vets to go back through their client's files and re-vaccinate any horses who had been vaccinated with last years vaccine within the past 6 months, but the push back from the vets was strong so the feds dropped the issue. My oldster gets vacc'ed in 2 weeks and I will be buting the night before, the morning of and that evening as well, as I usually do, purchasing a new tube of banamine and hoping all goes well.
    I'm confused by this, and think it's important to be clear so that misinformation doesn't spread (I watched a wave of vaccination misinformation spread through my boarding barn last year and am a little horrified how quickly a comment like this can be distorted and turn into word-of-mouth gospel truth).

    Which vaccine was found not to be effective in 2018? Are you trying to say that Equirab is currently unavailable because it has been found to be ineffective?

    What "feds" were telling vets to re-vaccinate horses who'd received rabies vacc within 6 months? To my knowledge there is no federal agency that monitors/cares about/requires the vaccination of horses against rabies. (AAEP recommends it for all horses, but that is neither a government agency nor a mandate to vaccinate.)

    And Merial Imrab is the product your vet is using in lieu of another product, not a product that others must use (Rabvac 3 is also available).

    Finally, bute can help with sore necks, but probably won't help with immunologic/allergic responses or certain vaccine-induced GI problems.

    Leave a comment:


  • Texarkana
    replied
    I took Marla 100 's reference to "older horses" to mean "adult" horses, not necessarily "aged/geriatric" horses. Especially in context to her link.

    Leave a comment:


  • Simkie
    replied
    Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
    I've questioned if it's necessary to give rabies vaccs annually on an older horse. UC Davis says rabies protection usually

    lasts for 2 and up to 3 years. So why do we still give rabies annually?

    https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/...es-vaccination
    IIRC, I've read that it's actually *more* important to give annually to older horses, because their immune response is less robust.

    A very quick google yields this, which has some discussion that seems to support that line of thinking: https://thehorse.com/125039/older-ho...and-deworming/

    Leave a comment:

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