Researchers have found that pneumonia can be successfully prevented in foals by vaccinating the mares before they give birth. Pneumonia can be deadly to foals, especially if they are between one and six months old with no immunity. By the time the foals begin exhibiting signs of illness like coughing or panting, the only available treatment is antibiotics.
Drs. Joana Rocha and Colette Cywes-Bentley created a study that tested antibody-mediated protection against equine pneumonia. To test their theory, they vaccinated 12 pregnant mares for pneumonia at both six weeks and three weeks before they were due to give birth. This vaccination prompted an antibody response in the mares. Seven unvaccinated mares served as controls.
Researchers confirmed in PLOS Pathogens that the antibody had transferred to the foals immediately after birth via colostrum. The team then exposed the foals to a live form of pneumonia at four weeks of age. It was reported that 11 of the 12 foals born to mares that had been vaccinated did not develop pneumonia; six of the seven control foals did develop pneumonia. All the foals used in the study fully recovered.
The study team determined that the success of protecting foals by vaccinating pregnant mares indicates that other pathogens may be prevented in the same manner, though concerns about vaccination safety still remain.
The study team included researchers from Harvard Medical School, Texas A&M University, Mg Biologics, University of Georgia, and AOPEXX Vaccine.
Read more at HorseTalk.
The full study can be read at PLOS Pathogens.
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