World Horse Welfare and the British government’s Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) agency are confirming reports of a case of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA or “swamp fever”) in a horse in the far southwestern region of Cornwall, England.
EIA is a viral disease that affects horses, mules and donkeys, and is most commonly spread by biting insects such as horse flies. There is no treatment and horses do not recover from the disease, which can be fatal.
The last cases of EIA reported in the UK occurred in 2010; they were the first since 1976.
World Horse Welfare assured the public that EIA cannot be spread from animals to people and that it is not a risk to human health. The disease does not spread quickly and is unlikely to spread widely from infected horses as the flies that transmit the disease only travel short distances to feed.
According to World Horse Welfare’s report, the affected horse will be humanely destroyed as required by law, and all other precautions have been promptly taken to prevent infection from spreading, including movement restrictions on the premises where the horse was stabled.
Of the remaining 25 horses on the premises of the infected horse, 23 have tested negative for EIA, and the remaining two are currently being tested.
EIA was reported in the Camargue region of France in August. In Germany also in August, a blood donor horse at a Westphalian vet clinic was found to have EIA and government officials attempted to contact all the horses that had received transfusions or that had come into contact with the horse.
This week, a horse was found to have EIA while stabled at Germany’s largest training center in Cologne. As a result, the track stabling area and a zone extending one kilometre in all directions has been placed under quarantine. Champion filly Danedream, who trains at the center, was prevented from traveling to Paris to defend her 2011 win of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this weekend.
In Canada, equids have tested positive for EIA this year in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.