We have a variety of ways to protect our animals from infection with Lyme Disease. Our clinic utilizes a Lyme vaccine for dogs (there is no vaccine approved yet for the use in horses), and we recommend the use of tick repellents to help protect our horses. Current research suggests that horses differ dogs in their response to Lyme, as most will not become ill. But for those that do, treatment is expensive, and loss of a show season can be frustrating.
Due to rising concern about the disease in horses we have elected to offer vaccination for horses following these guidelines:
- We would first do a blood test (4Dx) to determine if the horse has already been exposed. This test can be run on the farm and takes about 10 minutes to have results.
- If the horse is negative for exposure, we can utilize a canine vaccine that has been shown somewhat protective in horses. The vaccine is administered, then boostered at 3 weeks. Based on current research, the protective effects of the vaccination are short lived, requiring frequent (every 6 month) vaccination after the initial series of 2 vaccines are given.
- Because the vaccination initially requires a series of two visits and a blood test, it can be costly. To help reduce call charge expenses, please feel free to bring horses to office.
- Due to concerns about reactions, we will not administer the Lyme vaccine at the same time as other vaccinations. Ideal times to vaccine are in February and August, prior to peak Lyme transmission times. There is currently no equine vaccination for Lyme disease and we are utilizing a canine vaccination off label; owners will be asked to sign a waiver to this effect.
If a horse turns up positive on the stall side test (4Dx), we would not recommend vaccination at this time. If you are interested we can utilize further blood testing (Multiplex) to see whether the exposure is of great enough concern to consider treatment. We are NOT recommending treatment for horses who are not showing clinical signs.
Please also check out the following links to read more about Lyme disease in horses. If you have any questions, please let us know!
The Horse article on Lyme in horses: http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=19325
Update on Lyme testing from Cornell (multiplex test): http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June11/LymeVetTest.html
A scientific overview of Cornell University’s pony studies on Lyme treatment and vaccination: http://www.ivis.org/proceedings/aaep/2003/divers2/ivis.pdf