Alberta stands out as one of the few jurisdictions in North America in which horses are not routinely vaccinated against rabies. Arguments have always been that the incidence of rabies is much lower than in other regions, and there have been no reported equine cases of rabies in years, so the risk of infection would be so low as not to necessitate vaccination. The rabies vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian, another potential stumbling block to widespread vaccination of equines.
The rate of rabies in potential sources of infection within Alberta is the same whether we are considering a wildlife vector could infect a dog, a cat, or a horse. Yet rabies vaccination of our small animal companions is routine whereas vaccination of horses is almost non-existent. Although relatively rare, rabies is present in wildlife populations in Alberta, clinical disease should it occur is untreatable and (almost) invariably fatal, and a rabid companion animal or even horse can have very significant public health ramifications. Should we be revisiting this policy of non-vaccination of horses in Alberta?