Threat from equine rabies extends beyond the horse

Though 100% fatal and can spread to humans, vaccinating every horse, every spring can help prevent rabies

All core equine diseases pose grave dangers, but rabies presents the most serious threat for exposed horses and humans. Fortunately, this disease — with a 100% fatality rate — may be preventable with annual vaccination. 

And as spring nears, it’s time to focus on helping prevent your horse-owner clients from being exposed to these dangers. Soon, across the United States, horses may be exposed to rabies through wildlife like bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks that might carry the disease. And no matter where a horse lives or what it does, exposure to wildlife is an unavoidable reality. Complicating the danger is that rabies is a zoonotic disease, so it also presents a risk to horse owners, their families and anyone else exposed to the animal.

“It has been shown that six out of seven horses are not protected against all core diseases,” said Jaci Boggs, DVM, senior technical services veterinarian with Zoetis.1,2 “And spring is fast approaching, when exposure to disease carriers like mosquitoes, wildlife and soil bacteria will be unavoidable. Ensure every horse in your practice receives core disease vaccination every spring

Recommend to clients they treat rabies as a core disease, which is how it is classified by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV). That classification calls for annual vaccination for the core equine diseases of rabies, West Nile, tetanus, and Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis. These five are identified as core diseases because they can threaten every horse, have a high fatality rate and, in the case of rabies, include dangers for human health.3

Encourage clients to learn more about rabies. Give them written information concerning rabies, symptoms and treatment protocols along with advice concerning the recommendations of the AAEP, AVMA and NASPHV for annual equine rabies vaccination. For your records, document the client's receipt of this important information.

When dealing with a potential rabies case, veterinarians will need to be cautious and follow protocols.  

“Given the fact that rabies is 100% fatal and given the fact that the symptoms might appear early or might not appear until six months or a year later, the veterinarian should err on the side of caution,” said Denise E. Farris, esq, founder, Farris Law Firm LLC.

Beyond the personal and financial cost of a lost horse, rabies post-exposure vaccination could cost an estimated $7,500 per person.*,4 Effective protection exists, though, to help prevent these costs from being incurred. 

Now available to veterinarians, Core EQ Innovator™ from Zoetis can help protect a client’s horse against rabies and all core diseases. This single-injection vaccination has been field-tested in more than 1,000 horses with 99.7% of horses being reaction-free.5,6 Contact your Zoetis representative for more, or visit to get information and resources.

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2018, the company generated annual revenue of $5.8 billion with approximately 10,000 employees. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Adrienne McAleer

Kassi Hoxmeier
Bader Rutter

*According to meta-analysis, the number of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatments given in the United States is estimated between 40,000 and 50,000. In the U.S., the estimated rabies disease control, prevention and diagnostics costs range from $245 million to $510 million annually. A mean annual cost of $300 million for U.S. human rabies post-exposure prophylaxis divided by 40,000 people exposed per year equates to an estimated cost of $7,500 per person. 

1 American Horse Council; Washington, DC; 2017 Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry.
2 Data on file, Animalytix, Inc., Equine Vaccine MAT dose sales data 2017-2018. Accessed July 26, 2018.
3 American Association of Equine Practitioners. Vaccination Guidelines. Accessed February 12, 2019.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cost of Rabies Prevention.
5 Data on file, Study Report No. B951R-US-14-056, Zoetis Inc. 
6 Data on file, Study Report No. B951R-US-16-106, Zoetis Inc.



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