What is vaccination?
Posted: Jul 7, 2015 | Author: Health4Horses
Vaccination is a way of stimulating a horse’s immune system to protect it against harmful organisms (such as bacteria or viruses) without the horse being exposed to the risk of serious illness or death.
To understand how vaccines work, let’s look briefly at how a horse’s immune system helps protect it from disease.
What is the immune system?
Your horse’s immune system is designed to fight infection. There are two basic types of immunity – innate and active.
Innate immunity refers to the inbuilt methods of defence that are present from birth. These defences range from the protective barrier provided by the skin, through to microscopic immune cells that attack harmful organisms that manage to enter the body. The problem with innate immunity is that it is not designed to target specific diseases.
Active immunity is more specific and develops when your horse comes in contact with harmful bacteria or viruses. Active immunity involves the production of antibodies – special proteins that circulate in the body that detect and destroy invading organisms. Antibodies specifically target one bacteria or virus, which is why they are a very effective type of immunity.
Vaccination harnesses the power of active immunity, by stimulating the production of antibodies to protect your horse against a specific disease.