Arguing in favour of primary vaccinations

Foto: Antoinette Schrauwen

Veterinarian Gerrit Kampman strongly advocates primary vaccinations for all young horses at foal-raising yards. He has noticed that recently a lot more attention is being paid to diagnostics of young horses at raising yards: ‘When one of the animals at the foal-raising yard has a runny nose we are now much more likely to carry out examinations of nasal swabs, blood and droppings, usually at the owners’ request’. This is a way to establish the type of infection the horse has contracted. Then we can commence treatment and, if necessary, take measures to prevent contagious infections from spreading.
Kampman explains that in the past all parties involved, veterinarians, yard owners and horse owners considered it inevitable that young stock would get sick from time to time. Just like young children, young horses had to, as it were, go through certain ‘teething troubles’ in order to build resistance. The occasional death of a horse as a result of an infectious disease was factored in as a normal business risk by all parties. But times have changed, equine welfare features high on the social agenda and horse owners are, thanks to all information available on internet and social media, much better informed and have become more assertive too. He considers this to be a positive development: ‘It’s a good thing to look beyond just figures as such. Veterinarians tend to speak about the ‘losses’ that infectious diseases such as strangles or Rhino pneumonitis can cause in a group of animals, meaning the percentage of animals that can potentially die from an infection. In this day and age I think we have to reconsider our choice of words. When breeders entrust their ‘pride and joy’ to foal-raising yards and his or her foal is among these ‘losses’, then that means a 100% loss for that breeder.’Kampman therefore argues in favour of administering primary vaccinations for e.g. Influenza, Tetanus, Rhino pneumonitis and strangles to all young stock that go to foal-raising yards: ‘Sometimes I’m aghast at how many horses receive their first vaccinations no sooner than when they are started under saddle, which means they are already 3- and 4-year-olds. Primary vaccinations won’t completely rule out infectious diseases in young horses, but vaccinated horses become a lot less ill if they catch a disease.’