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Discussion on Rabies Vaccine Reaction - uncharacteristic symptoms

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Brandi
Member
Username: brandi

Post Number: 137
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 12:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

All of my horses were vaccinated last week and one had a reaction to the rabies vaccine. He was also vaccinated for EWT, but we point to the rabies because in addition to the symptoms below, that vaccination site (right side of the neck) was more swollen and hot. He had the swollen hind legs as described, but no fever at all (checked with 2 different digital thermometers). Skin was HOT to the touch, gums deep red (normal for him is very pale). CRT was fine, as was respiration. Extremely painful for him to walk, I feared laminitis, but his feet were actually cool.

Cold hosing of his entire body helped within minutes, and within an hour, the banamine kicked in for a bit more relief. Continued therapy brought about full recovery in 4 days.

Have you ever heard of this type of reaction? Would you do preventative banamine next time and a different brand?

Thank you.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 25063
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 7:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes, these reactions are detailed in the article and that you had no fever is a bit odd but there you are, often diseases do not read the books. I think your solutions to the problem are sensible and also explained in the article.
DrO
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2187
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 10:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have had hind legs swell (without heat in them) after the same combination of vaccinations and know of others who have had similar experiences.

Perhaps it was just coincidence but in the cases that I am aware of it happened during the heat of summer and a more extreme case with swelling in all legs when injections were given in the horse trailer at the Vet's office on the way home after a hot trail ride.

The rear legs swelling that my horse had responded very favorably to Bute, but the hosing seemed to do no good for him.

Due to my experience I split my vaccines up and prefer not to give the EEE-WEE-Tet at the same time as a West Nile or rabies shot.

All of my horses seem to feel better when not given multiple vaccines at once and though this means extra farm calls I feel that they are better protected this way.

Years ago I had a very reactive horse who we did resort to giving a Banamine injection to about an hour before vaccinations of any kind (she was a really special case who promptly came down with laminitis three separate times following single injections of 4-way vaccine, a Tetanus shot, a penicillin shot) but I have not had to do this with the horses that I have now since I split my shots up.
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Brandi
Member
Username: brandi

Post Number: 138
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 5:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr. O and Vicki for the responses.

Dr. O, I did read the article thoroughly, and saw the "bilateral hot swelling in the rear legs", but my horse was hot to the touch from nose to toes, so-to-speak, and I didn't see anything in the article about the dark mucus membranes (sorry if I missed it), so I thought this reaction was more atypical than most. My vet seemed to think it was very uncommon, so I wondered what you thought, and as I read MANY of the posts here, I didn't see anything that looked too similar to my horse's reaction.

As to the diseases not reading books, no, but I think my horse does read them, so he can come up with every possible anomaly, reaction, etc., so that no matter what, he's getting some special treatment and confounding me at the same time.

One of the things that stands out to me is the notion that vaccination when there is adequate immune response anyway may lead to a further instance of reaction, and this causes me to wonder about lessening the frequency of the rabies vaccination. We have reduced the frequency of rabies vaccs in dogs and cats, but horses are still annual. I hear you loud and clear about the disease being worse than the reaction in this case, and treatment of an unvaccinated horse might lead the best vets to want to be "hands-off," but is there any talk of safely lowering the frequency off the vaccine in horses, that you've heard?

As always, thank you for your time.
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2189
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 8:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Brandi,

Dr. O will have to chime in here but I have read and been told that for horses the rabies vaccine does not last as long and that they really need the regular shots.

That said, I know some folks who don't do them every year, but where I live there seems to always be cases of foxes or other animals carrying rabies.

For my personal safety I am not willing to take the risk though I did put my shots off for about 6 months when one of mine had laminitis in early January, which was when they were due for the rabies.

My Vet thought this okay and advisable due to the circumstances.
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 969
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Saturday, Aug 7, 2010 - 9:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Brandi,

I have had the same 4 horses for 7+ years and have given up on giving the rabies due to the reactions that always show up at least on 2 of my horses. My one mare can hardly move for days afterwards, no matter where I give the shot.

I did order a different brand this year (Michigan is one of the few states that allows owners to give the rabies vaccine, it just don't hold up in court if you give it to a dog and the dog bites someone)but it's still in my refrigerator!

When it was time to order shots this spring, I asked myself what is deadly? What is being reported in our area? With that info I downsized my vaccine order.

It just seems to me that rabies is one of those things that we have to carefully weigh the odds of the horse getting attacked by a rabid animal, and the possibility of what can go wrong from the vaccine.

FYI, the Fort Dodge Brand seems to be the worst brand for reaction, IMO.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 25069
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 - 7:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

If your horse had a fever and the body was trying to get his temp back down to normal peripheral vasodialation would account for skin temp and mm color you describe. You just missed the febrile stage.

An easy way to account for FD reputation is that it is far and away the most often used. Besides more opportunity for reactions another effect is repeated exposure to the same vaccination will increase its reaction rate over the years.
DrO
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Lucy C
Member
Username: lucyc1

Post Number: 23
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 - 3:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm curious how Dr O or others here feel about the option of drawing a titer to confirm immunity as an alternative to yearly vaccination.
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rtrotter
Member
Username: rtrotter

Post Number: 871
Registered: 4-2008
Posted on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 - 5:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I also do not like giving all my shots at once, and I certainly don't like when all the shots are given on the same side of the neck. I think its too many things going on at once.

This year, I split my shots, horses got EE, Tetanus and West Nile, on one side and Rhino and Flu on the other side. I waited 2 weeks and gave Rabies. Mare had a very slight reaction, for which I blame myself because I drew blood the first time, did not pull the needle out, just shifted it a little and then gave the shot, so I sort of was prepared for getting something. I treated with bute for 2 days and she was fine. The colt had no reaction at all. Mare got a rabies shot( EQUI-rab)2 weeks later and did not have any reaction to that.

Lucy C, I wish it were that easy, but my horses race and they need to show proof of vaccination before they are allowed to start and must get revaccinated every 3-6 months for EHV-1&4( Rhino/Flu).

But it sounds like a good idea, if everything we have to vaccinate for would show up in one test and if we could know for sure how long that immunity would last after the titer test was taken.

Rachelle
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Lucy C
Member
Username: lucyc1

Post Number: 24
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 - 7:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Rachelle: I was specifically referring to the rabies, because that seems like one of the most difficult for the horses, and because immunity seems to last longer for rabies. Testing for a titer is expensive, and if the titer is not good it gets even more expensive because then you have to inoculate as well. So far we have only used it for rabies and even then only for horses that have difficulty with rabies.
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rtrotter
Member
Username: rtrotter

Post Number: 872
Registered: 4-2008
Posted on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 - 8:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie,

Your horse(es) that are reactive, is it just Fort Dodge or have you tried other brands. I was pretty much relieved when I found out my vet was using Equirab by Intervet. I was going to have him special order it for me if he didn't. The funny thing was 2 years ago I mentioned to him about the Fort Dodge reactions and he told me I was overreacting. The one thing I like about this vet practice is that they are very in tune with what their clients say and I'll bet that other trainers were getting reactions too and complaining. At any rate I am glad they switched.

As far as the shots and extra farms calls. If you can give your own shots, get the vet to draw them up separately and refrigerate them as soon as possible. They will keep well as long as they are refrigerated.I bring a small cooler bag when I pick up my vaccines.

That's what I did, I only wound up with one farm call because I had him do the rabies shot, when he drew the blood for the coggins test. Unfortunately, I am no longer on a farm where the vet makes regular stops, so I do get hit for farm calls. I mostly go to the clinic to get what I want and so I avoid getting hit with the extra fees.

The vet also fine tuned what I needed upon my request. For example, my colt had a tetanus shot in February when he was gelded, so he did not need a Tetanus shot in July when I gave the rest of the vaccines. Also instead of getting 4 in one or 6 in one shots all of which had tetanus included (as purchased on the Internet). I got 2 different sets of shots that I could have spaced out over several weeks had I chosen to do that. I picked them up at the vet clinic.

Rachelle
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 25076
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 - 2:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Currently I do not know of studies that correlates titer levels with protective immunity, they are not always the same thing. I do not recommend it.
DrO
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muffi delaney
Member
Username: cometrdr

Post Number: 68
Registered: 2-2010
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 - 11:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with giving our own shots. great idea - I do that too. also I don;t do rabies - not sure if its protected here in AZ or not but the vet does. and ... FD always gave one of my two horses (thats 50%) a reaction. so the vet said to try the vacs every other year - as since he was born he got them every year - assumed he was ok. but still gets WN and Rabies every year.
soooo long story short - yea FD may get a bad rap cause it has a lot of stuff out there but the other brands did not cause a reaction that the FD did in same horse same vaccine. so our vet doesn't do FD unless requested by owners.
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oldjumpergal
Member
Username: rdewitt

Post Number: 8
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012 - 12:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My vet was just out for rabies shots (I thought) but gave all 6 horses the 4 way shots. I had quit doing any shots but rabies in 2010 due to reactions. Yes, they can get a bad disease, but yes, they can also have horrible reactions to a shot (had my beloved 6 year old Oldenburg gelding die a week after being given a shot of rompin for his teeth floating). Anyways, I wasn't here, all the shots were given, and all the horses went off their feed and looked miserable. Better today, but I would have preferred titers being drawn and then doing shots only if needed.
I am not a fan of shots for humans either. Never have been, never will be.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26324
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 - 7:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello ojg,
The article associated with this discussion area has recommendations for horses that have problems with their vaccines. The problem with titers (besides expense) is that we are not certain they accurately reflect resistance to disease. That said I do think there is a push to over vaccinate particularly with the respiratory vaccines. The article on vaccinations gives our guidelines HorseAdvice.com » Horse Care » Horse Vaccines, Vaccination, Coggins Test » Vaccines an Overview.
DrO
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oldjumpergal
Member
Username: rdewitt

Post Number: 10
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, Jun 29, 2012 - 12:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr. Oglesby:

Thank you so much for your input.

Perhaps because of the fact we were under the tropical storm Debbie (barometric pressure issues) or who knows what, all four of my horses were pretty sick for 3 days, and now it's been four days and I am not feeling comfortable about riding them, even though they seem a bit perkier today.
I had my vet back out yesterday because my 2 year old was actually scaring me by his behavior. He was very depressed and wouldn't eat his food or even graze. The vet said his neck was extremely sore and that was the issue.
Now, all of my horses are on bute (could be why they look better today) to help with the discomfort from the shots.
In the future, rabies will not be given at the same time as the "critical shots" and I will vaccinate in cooler weather.
Still not loving the shots.....
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Karen Nolte
Member
Username: morg1

Post Number: 209
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Thursday, Jul 5, 2012 - 9:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just thought I'd share my story. I have been giving vaccinations myself(all but Rabies, vet gives those) for about 12 years or so without any problems. None, at all, not even a sore neck until this year. I have always given the Fort Dodge vaccines. I'm not sure what the Rabies vaccines were. Unfortunately, after the West Nile + EWT that I gave this past March my Morgan stallion became ill. It was thought to be an injection site reaction or contamination since his neck was very swollen and painful. I kept in contact with the vet daily. Unfortunately, by the time that I "knew" something was more wrong than that it was too late (it might have been too late anyway). My stud kept up a good appetite until the last day (9 days after the shot). After supportive care given by the vet he died of Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia. A mare of mine also delivered her nearly full term foal as a stillborn (her foal was sired by my stallion) 7 days after receiving the vaccine. My theory is that there was something in that vaccine that reacted with my studs genetics, but that is only speculation. No other horses were ill that received vaccine from that lot and the mare herself was completely fine. Anyway, I talked to a Fort Dodge vet and she informed me that Fort Dodge had a bad rap from the incidence of reactions in the 90s. She said that they now have reactions percentage similar to the other vaccine makers on the market. She also said in the 10 years that she has been with the company this was the first auto immune reaction that she has seen brought on by a vaccine(that didn't really make me feel better), in horses that is. It is more common in small animals.

For the first time I am questioning the safety of vaccines, but now that it has been a few months I have decided that I will continue to give vaccines. I will probably divide them up more than I do, and have the vet give them instead of doing them myself. The point is that even though I will worry about giving vaccines to my horses every year and watch them like a hawk for a day or two, I will ultimately have more peace of mind from having horses properly protected from viruses than by skipping the vaccine. But...I would love to hear any updates on any vaccines that might not have to be given every year, if there are any out there.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26330
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Jul 9, 2012 - 5:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Karen,
My condolences over your stallion and foal. Did you give a Strangles vaccine at the same time you gave the others? If so was it an injection or the intranasal product?
DrO
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Karen Nolte
Member
Username: morg1

Post Number: 211
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Jul 9, 2012 - 11:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks DrO. No, I only gave the Fort Dodge West Nile + EWT Combo shot per injection in the neck. I had 14 horses here at the time. 6 of mine and 8 owned by others. I ordered a 10 dose vial and 4 individually packages shots. My Morgan stallion and bred mare received the individually packaged and 2 of my friend's horses received the other 2. They were unaffected. It led me to believe that it could be a genetic factor. Pfizer assured me that no other horses had difficulty with that lot #. Thankfully, they did help pay for the vet bill.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 26332
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012 - 7:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Genetics....perhaps Karen,
It seems unlikely that either stillbirth or Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, common problems in horses, was due to vaccination. In the case of AHA you have to have an antigen attached to the RBC's similar to those presented to the horse by the vaccines. The undiagnosed abortion appears to be a death of unknown cause.

On the other hand I cannot say this is not so as the vaccine stimulates the immune system. This would be a unreported complication with these killed vaccines in any kind of controlled testing or any published clinical reports (Based on personal experience and a search on Pubmed for horse, vaccine, hemolytic anemia).

It is important to know why you vaccinate your horse for each of the diseases that you do and to realize that vaccination has both positive and negative aspects (see above for reference to article on subject). It is the balance of the two on which you should base your decisions. Your veterinarian should be able to help you with the incidence of a disease in your area and the incidence of complications of vaccination and balance the two.
DrO
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Karen Nolte
Member
Username: morg1

Post Number: 212
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012 - 11:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

You're right, the foal could have just been some really bad luck. At first, that is what we thought it was, but then 2 days later the stallion died.... After we learned the diagnosis then we couldn't help but speculate the cause of the foal's death, but at that point the foal had been buried several days. Either way, it still makes me jumpy about vaccines, and rightly so. Vaccines are supposed to help keep your horses safe not end a 9 year old's life. I believe that I already give the bare bones of protection with the horse vaccines that I give. EWT + West Nile and Rabies. That is it. I'll definitely check with the vet next spring though on recomendations.
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