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Animal Health

Proper handling, administration is necessary to improve vaccine efficacy

Vaccines are an important tool in keeping a herd healthy, but do they have the same impact at all times of the year? 

Wyoming’s State Veterinarian Jim Logan explains that the effectiveness of vaccines depends on the condition of which the animal is in, as well as the species it is being used to treat.

“If an animal is in good condition their immune system should work pretty well, regardless of the weather conditions. Producers should keep in mind, though, that weather conditions can have certain impacts on the stress factors of the animals,” states Logan. 

Transmittance 

Environmental concerns related to disease transmission should be considered when using vaccines.

Some diseases are carried through vectors, such as mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. 

Vector-borne diseases include bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, vesicular stomatitis, leptospirosis, vibriosis, brucellosis and anthrax. 

“These diseases do have a higher prevalence in animals during times of extreme heat and drought”, says Logan. 

These vectors are usually located in riparian areas or other areas where there is water. Unfortunately, these are also areas where cattle and other animals will congregate. 

With a higher concentration of animals around water sources, the likelihood of livestock contracting disease is increased. Spread of disease occurs much more quickly in close quarters. 

“There could be risk of higher exposure risk just because of the concentration of the animals,” says Logan. 

On the lookout

There are a variety of measures that can be taken to increase efficacy of vaccines.

Producers should always be on the lookout for symptoms of disease in cattle, even if their cattle have been vaccinated. 

It is also not a bad idea to keep watch for signs of diseases that are not prevalent in the area, adds Logan.

Other precautionary measures that can be made to reduce risk of cattle being infected by vector borne illnesses are keeping livestock away from riparian areas and at higher elevations to reduce their interactions with vectors. 

“Location is critical in preventing vector borne diseases many times,” says Logan. 

Handling techniques

Another way to keep vaccines at their peak effectiveness is to properly handle them. 

“Regardless of a drought, vaccines should be handled by manufacturer’s directions. It’s very important to keep vaccines from freezing or getting too warm,” warns Logan. 

Also producers should make sure to keep the vaccine in a cooler in between times that they are being used to refill syringes because ultraviolet radiation and heat can denature, or deactivate, a vaccine. 

“Most vaccines are very sensitive to direct sunlight, so it’s important for people who are handling vaccines not to leave a bottle on the truck bed, hood or on a fence post,” advises Logan. 

“It is also very important for people to work with their local veterinarians to develop vaccination programs for their herds and to follow those protocols to prevent disease,” recommends Logan. 

Madeline Robinson is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..