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Concerns over owners failing to vaccinate their horses

Measles is not the only disease for which Britain is inadequately inoculated. New figures reveal we are also putting our horses’ health at risk by failing — or forgetting — to vaccinate.

Statistics from the Blue Cross show that last year, 65% of the horses taken into the charity’s care were either unvaccinated for influenza and tetanus or had lapsed vaccinations. This is an 11% increase from 2011.

British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) president Keith Chandler MRCVS told H&H it was cause for concern.

“If owners are opting to avoid the tetanus vaccination, that is worrying, especially as tetanus is probably the one infectious disease that kills horses that we can vaccinate against,” he said.

Mr Chandler also warned that if not enough horses are inoculated against flu, it could increase the chances of an outbreak.

“This would have a direct effect on horse owners who compete, with events being stopped, racing yards shut down [and so on].”

While the problem of not vaccinating is common in welfare cases, the charity said that more than half (54%) of horses and ponies being signed over to its care by their owners were also affected.

To gain a more accurate picture, the charity is calling on horse owners to take part in its forthcoming National Equine Health Survey (NEHS).

The Equine Health Survey (NEHS) runs from 5-11 May 2013. To take part, visit www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (2 May 2013)

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