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Explaining The New USEF Vaccination Rule

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has instituted a new rule that requires veterinary certification of vaccination against Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) and Equine Influenza Virus (EIV) within 6 months of a horse entering the grounds of a Federation licensed competition. The rule change was made in response to inconsistent requirements on the part of show venues that could potentially lead to infectious disease outbreaks. The USEF hopes to optimize individual horse health and reduce risks of infectious disease outbreaks by implementing this rule, which follows the vaccination recommendations published by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Equine Herpesvirus-1 is a virus that is spread chiefly through respiratory secretions and which causes a variety of syndromes in adult horses, including respiratory disease, pregnancy loss, and neurologic disease (EHM). The virus is highly contagious, and a strain of the virus that leads to neurologic disease can be particularly contagious, with high concentrations of the virus in the blood and secretions. Currently, a farm in Pennsylvania is under quarantine for this disease, with 6 horses affected, and 4 of these having been euthanized because of the severity of their condition. In the last 5 years, there have been several high profile EHM outbreaks associated with equine competitions. Although no vaccine has been proven to prevent EHM, vaccination reduces the amount of virus reproduction in the horse, which may help to contain spread of the disease by making horses less infectious to others if they are infected.

Equine Influenza Virus is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause high fever, cough, upper respiratory disease, and pneumonia. The virus is spread not only through contact with respiratory secretions, but through aerosolized viral particles in the air. Although rarely fatal, EIV can cause serious disease that can require hospitalization and intensive care of patients.

If you are planning on competing in USEF licensed shows this year, plan on setting up appointments for twice yearly EHV/EIV vaccinations, and have your veterinarian provide the required documentation to ensure compliance with the rule.