Total Equine Veterinary Associates’ Protocol for Lyme Vaccination in Horses

Lyme disease is both a devastating illness and a diagnostic dilemma. Recent advances in testing procedures allow for more exact results and the opportunity for vaccination prevention. TEVA recommends the following Lyme vaccination protocol that is shown to be effective and safe.

A primary reason why Lyme prevention was not widely accepted in the past was due to the inability to differentiate a blood sample from a vaccinated horse and a horse already affected with Lyme disease. In June 2011, Cornell University improved its laboratory test in a way that discriminates between acute/early and chronic infection, as well as a horse that has received prior Lyme vaccination.

Cornell University proved the effectiveness of the recombinant OspA vaccine in a small number of ponies. The ponies were vaccinated, then experimentally challenged with Lyme. None of the ponies became ill, no Lyme was isolated or cultured from their tissues, their blood test results remained negative, and infection was blocked. Overall, the study showed that vaccination protected the ponies. The vaccine was also safe and well tolerated.

The Cornell University Multiplex Assay Blood Test tells us:

  1. If the horse is negative
  2. If it is acute positive (early infection)
  3. If it is chronic positive (longer duration)
  4. If it has been vaccinated

For Clients Desiring Lyme Vaccination:

We will test for Lyme disease at the time of initial vaccination. Based on the results, the following action will take place:

If acute/early positive: treat with 30 days of oral doxycycline.

If chronic positive: treat with 60 days of oral doxycycline.

Vaccination Protocol:

All horses: 1 dose initially, then boost in 30 days; thereafter administer once semi-annually (twice a year) for endemic areas and farms, such as those Loudoun, Fauquier, and Prince William counties. Annually in non-endemic areas.

Cost: Prevention is less expensive than treatment. 60%-80% of local horses have been exposed to Lyme disease. This test helps to discriminate between exposed and diseased horses. The moment treatment is complete, another Lyme tick may infect your horse again.  As treatment offers no prolonged protection.

The vaccination protocol requires 2 visits. This process may be done at any time in conjunction with other services. The first visit is to draw blood for submission to Cornell University and administer the first vaccine. The second visit is to administer the booster vaccine.

The vaccines and testing protocol can be done independently of the Lyme status of the horse. Meaning if your horse is positive, it won’t affect the Lyme vaccine protocol. Likewise, treatment for Lyme won’t interfere wit the vaccine protocol. The vaccine won’t treat an existing infection.

Repeat Blood Testing: We recommend every 2-3 years, or 6 months after treatment if positive.

Seasonality and Timing: Start anytime. In addition to vaccination, we strongly recommend aggressive tick prevention like keeping grass cut short, trimming tail hair above grass levels, administering topical insecticides or Frontline spray, and daily removal of ticks.

Summary: Total Equine Veterinary Associates believes it is safe and effective to administer Lyme vaccines to horses. Preventing the disease is paramount to protection. Vaccination is sensible and cost effective when compared to the consequences of the disease and treatment costs.

TEVA is proud to be at the forefront of Lyme prevention. This paper is meant to serve as a guideline for clients desiring Lyme protection for their horses.

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