The Latest News on Lyme Disease and Vaccination by Dr. Alisha Oehling
In December 2013, Dr. Oehling attended a discussion on Lyme Disease at the national AAEP conference in Nashville. While much of the talk created more questions than answers, what did come out was a clearer consensus on vaccination. As most of you know there is not an equine vaccine. At this time we use a canine vaccine that has proven to be efficacious in most of our equine population without confusing future test results.
The testing we perform looks at three different proteins OspA, OspC, and OspF. In equine Lyme infections we rarely see elevation in OspA. OspC indicates an early stage infection and OspF tends to show chronic infections. So, in order to not confuse testing, most equine veterinarians are using vaccines that only raise OspA. That way if your horse does acquire an infection even after vaccination, it's easy to recognize. At this time we recommend testing before vaccination to determine the levels of all three proteins in your horse. This allows us to see if the horse is actively infected and also gives us a baseline for OspA. If the test results shows no active infection we recommend starting the vaccine series.
The first time the horse is vaccinated for Lyme Disease, the vaccine needs to be given in a three dose series. Give dose #1, three weeks later we give dose #2, then dose #3 is given 3 months after dose #2. Lastly, one month after the final dose we do a second test. This second test evaluates how much your OspA protein has changed. Ideally we would like it to climb quite a bit indicating your horse's body has responded to the vaccine. If your horse responded well, we recommend vaccination every 6 months after completion of the series. This will ensure your horse has the best protection possible against this dangerous disease.
If you have previously vaccinated your horse for Lyme disease, give us a call and we can help you figure out how to alter your program based on the new recommendation. Our staff would be happy to discuss all of this with you to make it a little clearer.