Breeding Operations Consider Herpesvirus Vaccinations

by Amanda Duckworth

In light of recent outbreaks of equine herpesvirus (EHV-I), and with breeding sheds set to open soon, Central Kentucky farms are evaluating their policies concerning equine herpesvirus vaccination requirements for broodmares.

A Feb. 2 release from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club said farms would prefer mares be vaccinated because of the equine herpesvirus outbreak at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky.

Rhinomune, Pneumabort K, or comparable vaccines should be given to mares seven to 90 days before they are brought to the breeding shed.

"What is very important to remember is that we do not have a proven, full-proof commercially available vaccine for EHV-I," Dr. Stuart Brown said.

"Farms need to develop an appropriate protocol based on their particular farm. There is not any really good full-proof answer for everyone."

Different farms are instituting different policies. Dr. Norm Umphenour, Ashford Stud's resident veterinarian, said the farm is requiring the vaccination, but it is not uncommon to vaccinate for it. "We try to protect ourselves as much as we can," Umphenour said. "We try to build a protection around our mares and stallions."

Overbrook Farm is also requiring that mares be vaccinated. "We are just instituting it for this breeding season," Ric Waldman, the farm's adviser, said. "We have decided to require it in order for it to have teeth in it."

Some farms are recommending that mares be vaccinated but are not requiring it. "We are recommending that people vaccinate with Rhinomune, but it is nothing that we have required," Steve Johnson, co-owner of Margaux Farm, said. "Research and experience has indicated that this product has been more effective than others."

Other farms have yet to decide on an official policy. "We want to collect more information before we set a policy," Margaret Layton of Three Chimneys farm said. She added that the farm plans to decide within the next week what its policy will be.

In light of the outbreaks, farms outside of Kentucky are also looking into requiring vaccination. "We have considered it," Michael Lischin of Duchess View Farm in New York said. "We have not decided what we are going to do yet." He also noted they are considering not allowing mares from certain areas into the breeding shed at all.

Dr. Tom Bowman said Northview Stallion Station in Maryland is not accepting maiden mares that have recently been at a track that has had an outbreak. He noted that many mares that are on farms have already been vacinnated.

"We suggest that people vaccinate, or we will do it when the mare gets to the farm to be bred," Bowman said. "We want to be reasonable but stay on the side of caution."

The final quarantine on Turfway Park was lifted Feb. 2. Maryland still has several quarantines in effect.

The breeding shed for most farms will open Feb. 13.