Push to raise awareness of horse vaccinations

OLYMPIC equestrian silver medalist Megan Jones has joined the call for Bundaberg horse owners to vaccinate their animals after figures reveal thousands are not vaccinated against potentially fatal diseases.

It comes as a national survey shows 96 per cent of horse owners believe protecting their animals from infectious diseases is crucial, yet up to a third have inadvertently let their vaccinations lapse, placing their horses in greater danger.

Ms Jones has joined forces with leading vets to warn local horse owners that without preventative care, Hendra virus, tetanus, strangles and equine herpes remain a real threat for horse owners.

The call to protect local horses comes during Vaccination Month, this April, which aims to boost the number of local horses being vaccinated against these dangerous infectious diseases.

Ms Jones said vaccinations were vital.

"I work with horses every day and can't over emphasise the importance of vaccination against these devastating diseases," she said.

"Organising vaccination takes just a few minutes and it certainly beats the potential alternative - having to treat your horse for a painful equine disease.

"Thankfully this alternative doesn't have to be a reality. Speak to your vet and get your horse vaccinated for peace of mind."

Dr Derek Major, of Agnes Banks Equine Clinic said while Hendra was a prominent concern for horse owners, illnesses like tetanus could be just as deadly for horses.

"There is little awareness that horses around Australia continue to die from tetanus. It is a horrible way to die and
surveys show that only 15 to 20% of Australian horses are fully vaccinated against tetanus," he said.

"Strangles and herpes vaccines, used properly, also have an important role in preventative horse health.

"We are coming into the time of year when the majority of Hendra outbreaks occur and we have already seen an outbreak in Queensland during March; a sobering reminder that Hendra remains a great risk.

"I encourage all horse owners to contact their vet to organise vaccinations against these debilitating diseases this April."

For more information on how to protect your horse from infectious diseases, visit www.health4horses.com.au.

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