Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rabies Vaccine

One of the horses in the barn is currently in ICU at the local vet hospital due to an infection from a vaccine.  Originally they thought it was a reaction to the vaccine itself, but now they believe its an anaerobic infection.  They have cut slits into her neck to open the muscle to oxygen as that's the only way to save her; pics farther down, but be warned it's bloody and gross.  They've already had to remove some necrotic tissue around the injection site.

The mare, as well as the owner's two other horses, were vaccinated by our vet Tuesday afternoon.  Wednesday morning the BO texted the owner saying the mare wasn't eating, didn't want to move, and looked pretty bad.  The owner didn't come out till that afternoon to check on the horse, and by that point her entire neck was swollen and she still wouldn't move or eat.  She called the vet and he came out and gave a dose of banamine as well as some topical ointment to help reduce the swelling. At 8pm last night, after the owner came out for a night check, the mare was worse and they loaded up to head to the hospital.

The vaccine that caused this was a rabies vaccine.  I've only ever given a rabies vaccine once, when Phoenix was being used for 4H and it was required.  He didn't have a problem with it. My vet said, as he was giving the shot that he didn't think it was necessary and he's never seen a rabid horse in 30+yrs of practice. I have no idea why the mare's owner choose to give the rabies, since I know my vet (whose she uses) wouldn't recommend it. Has anyone give the rabies shot?  I didn't even know they had one till I was told Phoenix would need it.  My ponies are due for their yearly shots and I'm kinda freaked out and no way in hell are they getting a rabies vaccine.

Picture of poor Poppi below.  The white you see are drain tubes, not puss.


  1. Jesus.

    That's actually all I have to say, looking at that last photo.

  2. If it's an infection, than it isn't necessarily the fact that it is a rabies vaccine that caused could have just as easily happened with a west nile or eee/wee or rhino or basically any vaccine or any form of injection in the muscle. While it is pretty rare for something like that to happen, that is the risk you take when injecting anything...needles and vaccine solutions are sterile, but the hair and skin you inject through is not. It almost looks like clostridial myonecrosis (though that is most associated with people who don't know any better trying to inject Banamine in the muscle). For infections like that involving anaerobic bacteria, they make incisions like that because said bacteria thrive in areas without oxygen.

    The rabies vaccine is mostly considered important because rabies is zoonotic and can be passed from horses (or dogs or cats etc.) to humans and is always fatal when contracted. The AAEP does consider it one of the core vaccines. But whether or not to vaccinate is the kind of a decision you and your vet should make together... I guess my major point is that this type of issue isn't necessarily associated specifically with the rabies vaccine...more a risk of any intramuscular injection.

    So sorry for that poor horse and her owner!

  3. wow that's horrifying - wishing the horse and owner the best of luck ! :(

  4. Rabies is one of the most important vaccines to get! The reason you don't see Rabid horses is because most are vaccinated. As Mary said its not the vaccine but an infection from the needle or something else. Jingles for a speedy recovery.

  5. Nancy's full sister who was two years younger had a similar reaction to a vaccine as a yearling. Poor horse & poor owner, infections are sneaky beggars. Hope Poppi makes a full recovery

  6. Wow! That's nuts! I've only ever heard of people giving the rabies vax when rabies is active in their area. It isn't in mine, and we don't give it.