More than half of horse owners who completed a survey into equine herpesvirus (EHV) have said they were unaware a vaccine is available against the contagious infection.
However, 77% of owners who didn’t vaccinate stated they now would, having learned more about it.
The survey was one of two conducted by global animal health company Zoetis – one aimed at horse owners, the other at vets – in March this year and prompted by the equine flu outbreak.
Some 1,300 responses were received.
Zoetis spokesman and vet Wendy Talbot said: “The majority of horses are infected with EHV in the first few years of life. Renewed shedding, especially during times of stress, results in new outbreaks and clinical cases.
“Vaccination against EHV is important because it helps tip the balance in favour of the horse’s immune system. It reduces viral shedding, the severity of respiratory disease and the frequency of abortion.
“As with flu, rigorous biosecurity is imperative to help minimise the risk of EHV spreading.”
Almost all vet and horse owner survey participants stated they wanted more educational and awareness information on EHV to be made readily available.
In response, a group of leading equine vets has produced a round table discussion document on EHV, with a central recommendation to vaccinate.
Zoetis has also teamed up with Josh Slater, a professor of equine clinical studies, to produce a CPD video for vets and a series of four educational videos for horse owners.