With the potential for pets and livestock to be exposed to wild and other domestic animals or bitten by insects (like mosquitoes) that could carry disease, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) encourages animal owners to talk to their veterinarian about what vaccinations are needed to protect their animals best, benefiting not only the animals’ health but also human health.
“Vaccines can play a critical role in preventing numerous diseases. Working with your veterinarian can help determine what is best for your animal’s health,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “Some of these diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can affect animals and people. One simple visit to your local veterinarian can make a big difference in protecting animal and human health.”
For dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, and other animals, a core vaccination they should have is for rabies. In fact, Michigan law requires dogs and ferrets to be vaccinated against this disease. Rabies is zoonotic, often fatal, and carried by certain wildlife species (such as bats and skunks) in Michigan. Pets and other animals can get rabies from bites or other interactions with rabid animals. As of July 14, 2023, there have been 18 cases of rabies within the state, including 12 bats, five skunks, and a cat. Highly safe and effective vaccines are available to protect animals against this virus.
Vaccinations are also vital to protecting the health of horses, especially from several mosquito-borne diseases—such as West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and Western equine encephalitis (WEE). WNV and EEE are regularly seen in Michigan, and EEE is particularly fatal. In 2022, one case of WNV in a horse was discovered, and there were three confirmed cases of EEE in horses. For a majority of these detections, the animals were either unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, and many of the horses died or were euthanized due to the severity of their illness.
There are many other diseases out there that can impact the health of your animals. Contacting your veterinarian can help you not only determine what vaccinations are best for your animals but also make sure these vaccinations are up to date.