Even if your horse lives on its own it should still be considered to be part of a herd. This is because in most circumstances there are other horses in close enough proximity to enable the transmission of disease. For example, equine flu is able to travel up to 5km under favourable circumstances. As such your horse is at risk of contracting an infectious disease even if it does not leave home. Your horse could also contribute to the spread of disease to other susceptible horses.
Therefore a greater uptake of vaccination against infectious diseases will provide better protection for both the individual animal and our local and national herd.
Herd immunity occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a herd provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. In these situations the disease is unable to spread because there are too few susceptible horses left to propagate the outbreak.
In Britain it is estimated that less than 50% of horses are vaccinated for ‘flu’ but this needs to be considerably higher to achieve herd immunity and provide better protection for Britain’s horses.
Herd immunity is also important for other infectious diseases such as strangles and herpes.
How can you do your bit?
- Check your horses vaccination status.
- Discuss a suitable vaccination protocol with your vet.
- Discuss yard protocols for new arrivals and what to do in the event of a possible disease outbreak with the yard manager.
Your vet will be able to provide further information relating to infectious disease and vaccination.