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Possible Reaction to Ft Dodge EHV-4/1 Vaccine

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  • Possible Reaction to Ft Dodge EHV-4/1 Vaccine

    At 4 pm today, I vaccinated my gelding and 3 of our other horses with the Ft Dodge Fluvac Innovator EHV 4/1. At my 8 pm barn check, the gelding had very swollen eyes, muzzle, and sheath. I medicated him, and the swelling began to subside. Has anyone else had a similar reaction to this particular vaccine? All 3 other horses have shown no reaction at this point. I have used this vaccine in the past, including on the gelding, without issue. The only other possibility that I can think of was the hay he ate - I had opened a new bale for the flakes he got at the 4 pm feeding.

  • #2
    Umm... yeah... my first call would defiantly be to a vet, not an online bulletin board if you *even vaguely* beleive your horse is having a true vaccine reaction or an immediate reaction to new hay.

    For the record, I recommend you call the closet vet immediately and have them come out ASAP. Facial swelling is quickly life threatening in a horse, who can only breath through their nose, unlike a chicken, which (technically) you can submerge completely under water (by holding a wing) and they can receive oxygen through that wing. Or so that's what the professors say. They recommended that we not try that one at home.

    Of course, I am curious to hear how you medicated him anyway!

    Almost any vaccine can cause a reaction. It could be the horse's sensitivity, the adjutant, the method of injection, etc. Why are you giving them so late in the year?


    • #3
      This product and Zimectrin Gold, are in my opinion, two highly suspect products. I have heard so many stories about reactions, that I will never ever administer either of them. So that I don't get accused of product slander, I repeat, that this opinion is mostly based on forum discussions.

      However, I do have a personal experience with the FD flu/rhino vaccination, which is the only vaccination I gave a year ago to a horse that started headshaking a few days later. As I recall, I researched the product and even read the patent, and (as I recall) the patent discussed the adjuvent as containing thimerisol, which is a highly controversial mercury-containing adjuvent.
      Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


      • Original Poster

        Fat Palomino - I asked about similar reactions, not a critique of my horse-care methods or a treatise on the criticality of facial swelling. You have no idea what actions I did or did not take nor do you have any knowledge of my level of experience with horses, and I did not discuss these topics because they were not the point of my post. If you have nothing informative to contribute in response the question, please don't participate in the discussion.

        To the Nines: Thank you. Yes, you're absolutely right - per the packaging, the vaccine includes thimerisol. I agree, no product slander, and I will say I have used the product for many years without a reaction from any of many horses I've owned over the years. However, I do not plan to use it again. I keep track of serial numbers for the vaccines given to each horse, so I will be contacting Fort Dodge about this incident.
        Last edited by kypeep; Dec. 7, 2008, 10:11 AM.


        • #5
          Hope your horse is doing better this moring. Pull a call into Fort Dodge, tech support, and report the problem.

          SInce your other horse's did not have a problem my hunch would be the batch of vaccine isn't bad but that doesn't mean that particular horse's immune system wasnt' already under some unknown stress and the vaccine set him off.

          Good luck.


          • #6
            You are reporting a typical anaphylaxsis type reaction. They can happen any time with any product. They are more likely to happen with a product you have used before.

            That said, you might be better off not using the Ft Dodge line. Unfortunately they are most prevalent. The adjuvant ( liquid enhancer) is likely the problem.

            You very likely need to rethink you vaccine program. Vaccinate only in the morning. Consider having the vet do the vaccines when you know they are going to be on or near the farm for a few hours. Some people pre-load their horses with antihistamines. Reconsider even doing vaccines, most of them are marginal in their efficacy or not even needed. stagger out vaccines and do not use large combo vaccines.

            Talk to your vet about this. These reactions can be fatal

            Personally unless you are on a breeding farm or in a show system where Rhino is required I would reconsider using Rhino at all. I do not live where there is EEE WEE so I only use West Nile and Tet at this time, and not Ft Dodge products. That prejudice goes back many years from my small animal clinical days.
            -- * > hoopoe
            Procrastinate NOW
            Introverted Since 1957


            • #7
              We had a pony with an anaphylactic response to Fort Dodge vaccines. Our vet told us that it is generally the carrying agent that provokes the reaction and he'd make a note to use another brand of vaccines on my horses.


              • #8
                I don't know about the flu ones, but I did hear there were a lot of adverse reactions to the west nile vaccine from Fort Dodge. i don't know if those have been resolved...


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks to those wishing me luck, suggesting that I report the reaction to Fort Dodge, and posting information about adverse reactions they've seen. What I'm trying to do with this post is understand the frequency of this type of reaction.

                  As for not giving vaccinations, I am not so sure that's the answer. I live in the South, not a location known for conditions that would allow foregoing vaccinations. In addition, these horses all travel to shows regularly and spend time at a trainer's barn, so I try to keep them as protected as possible. (Although I don't particularly want to kill one with a vaccine reaction either.)

                  BTW, the gelding quickly recovered last night once given medication as directed by the vet.


                  • #10
                    hey noepoe

                    wouldn't it make the vaccine less effective if u use antihistamines before giving the vacs, the vaccine works by stimulating the imunesystem against the antigen? sorry. just asking?


                    • #11
                      Vaccine Reactions

                      We didn't have the same reaction, however, we did end up with 3 horses out of 7 having very high fevers, stiffness and being over-all miserable for a few days.

                      I usually do not panic easily, but I could literally feel the heat coming off of my gelding and he looked awful, so I did make our vet come back out to be on the safe side. The TB had a high fever with stiffness in his neck and the Welsh pony also had a high fever with stiffness to the point that she couldn't put her head down to eat, we had to hold her food bucket up for her to eat and raise her hay to chest level.

                      A few days of Banamine IV, and cold hosing when the symptoms were first noticed quickly got it under control, but it is the second time it's happened with FD vaccines at our facility.

                      Tough call with vaccines - I would love to lighten up on our vaccine protocol, but with new horses coming in often, I'm afraid the benefit of twice yearly vaccinating outweighs the risk at this point.

                      Good luck and I hope your horse if feeling better soon.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FatPalomino View Post
                        Umm... yeah... my first call would defiantly be to a vet, . . . I recommend you call the closet vet immediately . . . .
                        Defiantly = boldly resisting

                        Definitely = assuredly; certainly

                        Closet = a small room used for storage

                        Closest = nearest

                        A bit of proofreading & correction of errors is always helpful in keyboarding a post.


                        • #13
                          I would never vaccinate this horse with a combined vaccine again, nor would I use a Fort Dodge vaccine. Personally I would never vaccinate this horse again at all.

                          I talked to a local vet supply store because I wanted Intervet vaccines, as they were recommended to me to cause less reactions. The lady at the store told me that they had experienced the same!

                          I was contacted about another horse that recently reacted to a 5-way from Fort Dodge. First time she only had a lump on the neck. The booster then pushed her over the edge and into laminitis.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Evalee Hunter View Post
                            Defiantly = boldly resisting

                            Definitely = assuredly; certainly

                            Closet = a small room used for storage

                            Closest = nearest

                            A bit of proofreading & correction of errors is always helpful in keyboarding a post.
                            Gee, thanks. Sorry, when I woke up studying for finals, thinking someone was breaking into my house, and I hear someone *just* posted about what sounded like an Type 1 Hypersensitivity reaction, the last thing on my mind was typo's.

                            Obviously, my point was clear. I am surprised why someone is giving vaccines so late in the year, and why they wouldn't put a call into a vet. I don't know any vets that would recommend treating a Type 1 Hypersensitivity reaction without vet intervention.

                            OP, glad your horse survived


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you for the good wishes, he is very happily grazing away in the pasture as we speak.

                              Please note that I did not say in my original post whether I put in a call to the vet. In fact, I did, the minute I walked into the barn and saw the horse. I posted quite later in the evening, as I was waiting to check on my horse again, in order to see how many others had experienced this particular reaction. Also, this horse goes to shows year-round, hence he and my others are typically vaccinated every 4 months for rhino/flu no matter what time of year it is. I don't like the frequency of vaccination either because I know the risks that it carries. On the other hand, I have seen what happened when one does catch the flu, and it also was not something I would prefer to live through again.

                              I am not sure what protocol we will use to vaccinate this gelding in the future. It will require some discussion and decision-making with my regular vet. The vet on call was not my regular, and his concern and course of treatment likely differed. I have requested that my regular vet call me as soon as possible. I typically do not vaccinate with combination vaccines for fear of reactions. This particular vaccine has been the exception in my program.

                              What strikes me as particularly odd about this reaction was the lengthy time period involved. As I said, I gave the shot at 4 pm, give or take 5 minutes. I stayed in and around the barn doing chores until approximately 5 pm so that I could observe the horses and make sure there were no issues. The gelding never appeared distressed or behaved unusually in any way. Perhaps he had hives that I could not see due to hair length and blanketing, but certainly there was nothing clearly overt that I picked up on. However, at 8 pm, he was definitely in distress. When do horses "typically" reach their maximum distress levels from vaccine reactions?
                              Last edited by kypeep; Dec. 7, 2008, 03:12 PM.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by kypeep View Post
                                . I have seen what happened when one does catch the flu, and it was not something I would prefer to live through again.
                                In that case, I'd consider using an intranasal influenza vaccine in the future.
                                "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Ghazzu, good point.


                                  • #18
                                    All three of my horses had injection site reactions (noticeable lumps about the size of a golf ball or egg) the day after I gave this vaccine about a month ago. It took a couple of days to go away. I wondered if I had somehow caused it with my technique, but I had also given them their WNV shots (also Ft. Dodge) and those did not have reactions.

                                    I will definitely use a different manufacturer next time. I have used this in the past with no incident, but I certainly don't want to see what happens next time if they showed even a small issue this time!


                                    • #19
                                      I actually had the chance to question a vet from Ft Dodge this past Tuesday - he said that if the vaccine is frozen it becomes MUCH more reactive. He found out the hard way, before he started working for Ft Dodge, and many vets aren't aware of the issue. So if it's been stored in a too-cold refrigerator, or left outside in the cold overnight, you will have a problem.
                                      If you must choose between two evils, choose the one that you've never tried before.


                                      • #20
                                        My friend's horse had a reaction to a flu/rhino vaccine. He got it in his butt since the previous year his neck had stiffened up real bad (but they didn't know from what shot, thought maybe shots in general). Within a few hours after the shot, he was so stiff he was walking noticably off. The vet said it would work out, keep him moving but don't force him to work or put him with horses that would chase him. Don't remember the in between details, but a few days later he was walking horribly lame on the leg and had a lump. He ended up in the clinic for 13 days, the injection had cause a reaction and had abcessed in the muscle. They had to cut 2 holes in his back leg, and keep a drainage hole for the time he was in the clinic. For a while it was iffy if he'd make it, then they thought he probably would not be sound on that leg again. Thankfully, he made a full recovery. But no more vaccines for that one, and all of us that had to watch that have put a little more thought into what we put into our horses. While the diseases are terrible, the vaccines are not without risk.
                                        Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
                                        Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
                                        My Training Blog: www.dressagefundamentals.com