Equine Vaccine Reactions

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My mare has adverse reactions to immunizations. My vet spreads the injections over five visits, administering dexamethazone first. Still, she goes off feed. My vet suggests we don’t do the shots anymore, but a recent outbreak of rabies in our area has me concerned. Is Banamine a better idea with immunizations'

Horse Journal Response: As a general rule, bute or flunixin (Banamine) is preferable to dexamethasone, since that drug can interfere with a good antibody response to the vaccine. That said, we’d try not to vaccinate this mare. For both the rabies and for tetanus (two important vaccines), we suggest your vet do a titer before deciding about these two vaccines.

EPM Disease Du Jour

Has EPM become the disease du jour' It seems that some vets give EPM as a diagnosis for every lameness they see.

Horse Journal Response: EPM is often suggested when a horse is moving abnormally, when a lameness can’t be pinpointed using just flexion tests and nerve blocks. However, pain originating from a hip, pelvic, sacroiliac or spinal source may also be the cause. If this exam isn’t conclusive, a thorough neurological exam should be the next step.

A serum titer is also worthwhile. A positive titer doesn’t confirm EPM, but a negative one can rule it out. A spinal ”tap” to obtain cerebrospinal fluid for a titer at the same time may be advisable.

Other differentials for obscure movement abnormalities include Lyme disease, equine motor neuron disease, and equine polysaccharide myopathy (EPSM). Investing in correct diagnostics for all possibilities is more effective and less expensive in the long run than jumping on the EPM bandwagon.