Travelling with your horse to the US this year? What do you need to know and do in terms of vaccination?
Step one is plan ahead - you will need to complete all vaccinations and booster vaccines (if required) 14 days before you can ask your veterinarian to examine your horse for export health papers.
You will, of course, also need a negative EIA test (“Coggins Test”) within 6 months of your departure and return.
Your regular or herd health veterinarian is a great resource in deciding what additional vaccines may be necessary.
Consider timing - we don’t need to worry about vector borne diseases (typically mosquito transmission) much in winter in Canada, but in the southern US, every season is mosquito season! As a result, you may need to repeat your “spring shots” for West Nile and Eastern and Western Encephalitis before a fall departure to maintain maximum immunity for your stay.
A great resource for vaccine recommendations is the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) website. For checking out disease prevalence on your route and at your destination, monitor the Equine Disease Communications Center.
Another tip- be sure to check the web for interstate travel permits (if required), and watch for any travel restrictions due to communicable diseases. For example, Vesicular Stomatitis outbreaks occur frequently, and regulations around animal transport can change rapidly.
Travel is stressful for horses, and with the added challenge of co-mingling with other horses at training barns and competition venues, the risk of getting a preventable disease is higher. Protect your horse from infectious disease with vaccination as much as possible- a sick horse far from home is not the outcome anyone could want from a trip south.
Written by Bettina G Bobsien, BSA, DVM, Diplomate ABVP [Equine], firstname.lastname@example.org