Forbes Veterinary Clinic (02) 68521775

Horse Vaccination


Hendra is spread by flying foxes so horses in contact with these or who travel and come in contact with other exposed horses are at risk and should be vaccinated. It is also recommended that owners protect horses’ feed and water from contamination by flying foxes and that your horse be isolated from any trees where the flying foxes roost.

Hendra has been detected in all four major species of flying fox in Australia. It has been responsible for the death of 4 people and over 90 horses.


Horses will begin to show the following signs 5-16 days after contact with an infected horse:

* Fever
* Nasal discharge
* Increased breathing and heart rate
* Reduced appetite
* Weight shifting between legs
* Head tilt
* Clumsiness/difficulty walking
* Muscle twitching


Humans will show the following signs 5-21 days after contact with bodily secretions (saliva, blood etc.) from an infected horse:

* Fever
* Cough
* Sore throat
* Headache
* Drowsiness



Vaccination is clinically proven to protect your horse from the virus. From 4 months of age your horse can receive its first dose, then a booster 3-6 weeks later and 6 monthly boosters after that. The vaccine IS NOT approved for yearly boosters yet.

Horses must be microchipped to be on the register for the vaccine.

If horses miss a booster vaccine they will lose their certification and you must restart the vaccine process. They must receive the 2ndbooster at 3-6 weeks after the first vaccine. The 6 month vaccine can be up to 5 weeks late without losing certification.

It is recommended that you check with your local equine sporting club for any regulations they have about vaccinating horses. 

There are some export restrictions to the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. There are currently no restrictions in export to New Zealand, Europe, the UK or America. The Department of Agriculture can provide further details on requirements for specific destinations.


There are currently studies underway to test its safety in pregnant mares. The company believes there should be no additional risk but it is advised you speak to a vet before vaccinating pregnant mares.

The most common side effect of the vaccine is a painful swelling where your horse received the vaccination.




How does my horse get it? 

Either directly contacting a horse that is shedding the bacteria – nose to nose in a paddock, stable or competition or via a shared water/feed trough.


What signs will my horse show?

Fever, trouble swallowing, pneumonia, snotty nose, off food. Some horses will develop a more serious syndrome called purpura haemorrhagica that causes fluid retention in its limbs, belly and head. 


Can it be treated? 

Yes. It is important to remember that some horses will continue to shed it intermittently forever meaning that they can then be the source of infection for other horses.


Should I vaccinate? 

We recommend horses that go to competitions be vaccinated –

An unvaccinated horse requires 3 vaccinations 2 weeks apart initially followed by boosters every 6 months if they are at high risk, once yearly if they are at low risk. It is recommended that you speak to your veterinarian if you are unsure.

Vaccine is not a guarantee against infection but lessens the severity of infection if it occurs.




How does my horse get it? 

Tetanus is caused by a bacteria that invades into a wound from the ground.


What signs will my horse show? 

Paralysis, lockjaw, hypersensitivity to noise and light.  Tetanus will cause death due to asphyxiation.


Can it be treated? 

Success of treatment is dependent on how early in the disease treatment starts. The earlier the better but there is no guarantee.


Should I vaccinate? 

Everyone should get their horse vaccinated for tetanus. An unvaccinated horse requires 2 vaccinations four weeks apart followed by yearly boosters.