Most infectious diseases are easily preventable by knowing their basic information and transmission routes, and of course by vaccinating if available.

Most common equine infectious diseases that occur on the farms are:

* Equine Influenza: a highly contagious viral disease that is very expensive to treat and can weaken the horse for a prolonged time. Not transmissible from horses to humans. The virus mutates over time and it is recommended all horses to receive a vaccine of the most current influenza strain available in their country.

* Equine Herpesvirus: several types, but clinically most important are Type 4 (EHV-4) and Type 1 (EHV-1). Most common are respiratory symptoms and may cause abortions. It is recommended every horse be vaccinated and pregnant mares to be vaccinated at 3, 5, 7 and 9 months of the gravidity.

*Equine Encephalomyelitis: transmitted by mosquitos, attacks the brain and the CNS. If the horse survives may suffer permanent damage. Vaccination is strongly recommended.

*Equine Infectious Anemia: fatal viral disease. There is no cure or known effective treatment. Most horses will show no symptoms but will stay contagious for the rest of their lives. The virus is also transmitted through the placenta.

*West Nile virus: transmitted by mosquitos and affects the brain and the spinal cord. The clinical symptoms may vary, but most horses will experience difficulty in coordination.

*Strangles: a bacterial disease that is very contagious and most often in young horses. Usually, the clinical signs show enlarged lymph nodes, trouble breathing, nasal discharge, fever, and others. A vaccine is available and can greatly decrease the severity of the disease.

*Tetanus: caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, affects horses that wounded themselves on barbed wire, rusty nails, or inadequate surgical procedures. The best prevention is a vaccine.


There are many more equine infectious diseases and the good people of the Equine Disease Communication Center created a website where you can check the status of a particular disease in your country. The website offers alerts and updates on current outbreaks.

Learn more about this helpful website and how to use the database here: