Keeping up on vaccinations

By Brandi Bailey

June 19, 2013 Updated Jun 19, 2013 at 6:57 PM EDT

Nichols, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's a common thought to vaccinate people and even their pets.

But it's just as important -- and potentially life-saving -- for horses.

The New York State Department of Agriculture says such vaccinations are necessary, especially for horses that are hitting the track.

"The main one up in this area is (the) West Nile (virus), Potomac (Horse Fever) is very important because they're so close to the river, then the East West Encephalitis is most definitely important," said trainer, John Hallett.

Hallett says it's not just about the health of his 14 horses. He's also concerned for other animals, especially those in close quarters.

"It's not only their livelihood, but its the other horses on the grounds and because they're coming from different parts of the country. There's different bugs that travel," Hallett said.

Making the move from Florida to Tioga Downs each year, Hallett knows what illnesses hit different areas hardest.

Hallett said certain illnesses are more prominent "because we are so close to the Susquehanna River. You might have a track that's two hours away that they never hear about it but like here and Pocono Downs have to worry about it," Hallett said.

On top of West Nile, Potomac and Encephalitis, horses also get rabies, tetanus, and influenza shots.

That list is required annually, but Hallett prefers to give them every six months.

"Just like a person, small viruses can throw them off their game, they're not feeling well. If they don't race well then you're obviously not making any money," Hallett said.

If these viruses go untreated, it could cost the owners a lot more, and cost the horse its life, Hallett said.