New Equine Rabies Vaccine Introduced

EquiRab, a rabies vaccine designed specifically for horses, is now available from Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health. The new vaccine for horses offers long-lasting protection against rabies in a single, low-dose injection.

"Just as it is for dogs and cats, the potential for horse exposure to rabies justifies vaccination," said Craig Barnett, DVM, Intervet senior equine technical services veterinarian. "Although we don't see a lot of clinical cases of rabies, vaccination against the disease should not be overlooked--especially because it is invariably fatal and has considerable public health significance."

Rabies Vaccine Considered Core

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) included rabies as a core vaccine in its recently updated vaccination guidelines, which provide veterinarians with current information and recommendations for vaccinating horses in their care.

"AAEP's recent adoption of rabies as a core vaccine reiterates the significance of the disease as well as the efficacy and safety of vaccination, which has been determined to exhibit a high enough level of patient benefit and low enough level of risk to justify vaccination in the majority of horses," Barnett said.

The Rabies Challenge

"While there only has been a handful of equid rabies cases reported within the last couple years, the number is increasing steadily," Barnett said. "This is thought to be due in large part to the urbanization of areas where the disease is endemic in the wildlife population."

Barnett said it is not uncommon for pastured or stalled horses to be unknowingly exposed to wildlife. Most of these incidences go unnoticed and most bite wounds are not found.

The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system of the horse and is very difficult to diagnose. There is no definitive test to diagnose rabies in a live animal, further underscoring the need for preventive vaccination.

"Rabies vaccination is highly recommended," Barnett said. "Clinical signs of equine rabies can mimic many other neurological diseases in the horse. Concern for rabies in a horse showing neurological signs can be somewhat minimized if the horse is known to have been vaccinated."

New Vaccine

EquiRab is shown to provide 14-month protection and is proven safe for use in healthy horses and foals four months of age or older. Field safety studies conducted by veterinarians in three states show that 97.7% of the 992 horses vaccinated with EquiRab had no injection site reactions or signs of adverse effects.

EquiRab is aseptically injected intramuscularly. Annual revaccination is recommended. A booster dose can be administered at more frequent intervals based upon individual horse or farm disease risk assessment, or anytime epidemic conditions exist or are reported.

EquiRab is available through veterinarians. For more information about EquiRab and the full line of Intervet equine products, contact Intervet Customer Service at 800/441-8272 or visit  

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