Are Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis Necessary?

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Last Updated on September 28, 2022

When it comes to time for their annual shots, you may start looking into vaccines for horses for leptospirosis to decide if they are necessary. Figuring out what vaccines your horse needs can be a bit of a minefield, but luckily we’ve got everything you need to know right here. Let’s look into vaccines for horses for leptospirosis and find out if your horse needs this shot!

What Is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that affects many species of animals around the world, including humans, dogs, and horses. This disease is zoonotic, which means it can be spread between species of animals and humans. An outbreak of leptospirosis poses a large health concern to both animals and humans.

Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals. Most commonly this occurs when wild animals such as rats become infected and urinate in areas that are populated by humans and animals. Infection occurs when infected urine is either ingested or transmitted through cuts and grazes on the skin.

Whilst leptospirosis can affect many species of animals, today we will look at how it is transmitted to horses and whether vaccinations are necessary. A common source of infection is feed stores, which have been contaminated with rat urine. Therefore, it pays to keep the rat population in your barn under control to minimize the risk of leptospirosis.

The most common signs of leptospirosis in horses include fever, depression, lethargy, reduced appetite, and cloudy eyes. In horses, this condition leads to uveitis, where the eyes become very inflamed. It can also result in kidney and liver failure and eventually death.

Leptospirosis in horses is not always fatal, and studies suggest that around 45% of horses have been exposed to some form of this disease. However, it can cause severe illness, and in pregnant mares may lead to abortion. Foals born to mares with leptospirosis are often severely ill and may not survive.

The main problem associated with leptospirosis in horses is that the uveitis becomes recurrent, even after the initial infection has been treated. This can lead to lifelong eye problems which will require constant management and treatment. Over two-thirds of horses with recurrent uveitis are thought to have contracted this as a result of leptospirosis.

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What Are Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis?

Although a vaccine for dogs against leptospirosis has been widely used for many years, vaccines for horses for leptospirosis have only become available in recent years. This was mainly developed through the need to vaccinate pregnant mares to reduce the risk of leptospirosis-induced abortion.

Vaccines for horses for leptospirosis are not available in all countries, as it will depend on the marketing authorization of the drug manufacturer. If you feel that you live in a high-risk area for leptospirosis, your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the availability of vaccinations.

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Are Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis Necessary?

As with all vaccines for horses, whether your horse needs a leptospirosis vaccine or not should be discussed with your veterinarian. This is because the risk of equine diseases will vary between countries and even regions within countries.

A reputable equine veterinary clinic will have knowledge of the prevalence of diseases in the local area and be able to advise on the best vaccination protocol to follow.

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How Often Should Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis Be Given?

Unvaccinated horses should be given a primary course of two leptospirosis vaccines with a three to a four-week interval between each dose. In foals, this would normally be started when they are six months of age, although the vaccine is safe from three months onwards.

Vaccinated horses are then given an annual booster to maintain immunity.

The leptospirosis vaccine for horses has been demonstrated as safe for pregnant mares. If unvaccinated, the mare should be given a primary course, the same as for any adult horse.

Previously vaccinated broodmares can be given a booster vaccine during the pregnancy to boost immunity for both the mare and her unborn foal. She will then pass on antibodies against leptospirosis to the foal through her colostrum.

How Often Should Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis Be Given

Summary, Vaccines For Horses For Leptospirosis

So, as we have learned, vaccines for horses for leptospirosis have only become available in recent years, and are recommended for pregnant mares in high-risk areas to reduce the risk of leptospirosis-induced abortion. Leptospirosis in horses is more widespread than once thought, and it is believed that up to 45% of horses may have been exposed to this infectious agent. In UN vaccinated horses, leptospirosis infection can lead to uveitis, liver and kidney failure, and eventually death.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on vaccines for horses for leptospirosis! Do you always have your horses vaccinated against this unpleasant infectious disease? Or perhaps you’ve got some questions about the best vaccines to give to your horse? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!


How do you prevent leptospirosis in horses?

Leptospirosis in horses is spread through infected urine, particularly that of wildlife such as rats. To reduce the risk of your horse contracting leptospirosis, keep feed stores locked away and safely covered to reduce the population of rats. Maintain good standards of hygiene in your barn and keep any waterways in your grazing land fenced so your horse cannot access them.

Is there a vaccine for leptospirosis?

There is a vaccine available for leptospirosis in horses. This is commonly used in pregnant measures to reduce the risk of abortion following leptospirosis infection. Other at risk groups of horses can also be vaccinated against leptospirosis.

What is the vaccination schedule for leptospirosis?

If your veterinarian recommends that your horse has a vaccination against Leptospirosis, he should receive a primary booster course of two vaccinations. These are given three to four weeks apart, and an annual booster is also required to maintain immunity.

What are the 5 core vaccines for horses?

The five core vaccines for horses may vary slightly according to your region. However, they normally include vaccinations against rabies, tetanus, West Nile virus, and eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis.

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