Nature’s Immunity in Horses
Immunity is nature’s defense against disease, helping to protect horses from potential harm. There are three types of immunity, innate, adaptive and passive. Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense, consisting of physical barriers such as the skin and mucus membranes, as well as chemical factors such as natural antibiotics and antimicrobial peptides. This immunity can be found from birth, and it isn’t specific to any antigen or organism. Adaptive immunity is the body’s second line of defense and is acquired over time through exposure to various pathogens and antigens. This immunity involves production of antibodies by T- and B-cells and is specific for certain organisms. Passive immunity can also be acquired by another animal through transfer of antibodies via the placenta, or through ingestion of colonstrum. This type of immunity is temporary, and is only effective for a few weeks or months (Kanakam et al., 2019; O’Neill, 2021). To protect horses from diseases, all three forms of immunity work in concert. Innate immunity protects horses from infection using chemical and physical barriers. Adaptive immunity combats infections by the production of antibodies. Passive immunity helps protect newborn foals by providing them with protection from the mother’s antibodies in the first few weeks of life. These three immunity types work together to protect horses from diseases and keep them healthy.