Drama on a high level erupted in Europe today as Danedream, the sparkling superstar winner of the 2011 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, was found to be among hundreds of horses affected by a quarantine for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) at a racetrack in Cologne, Germany.
Two stories live in that one sentence: the fact that EIA (also known as "swamp fever") has been found in a horse at a racetrack, and the fact that the favorite for Europe's premier Thoroughbred race could have to sit the race out in order to comply with public health mandates.
The British news site for Sporting Life has broken the news, which was mentioned on Twitter earlier today in English by The Racing Post, as well.
Last week, an announcement from the International Society for Infectious Disease (ISID) at Harvard University noted that a blood donor horse at a German equine hospital had tested positive for EIA. The clinic was attempting to contact horse owners whose animals might have been in contact with that horse. Once that was done, they decided to contact anyone whose horses had been in contact with the donor horse for the past three years.
The North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV) issued a press release on September 14 about the situation with the equine clinic. "All horses in direct contact with the blood donor were investigated immediately ? approximately 600 animals, which all tested negative for EIA so far," LANUV stated at that time.
In what appears to be a separate incident, Sporting Life reports that a horse at the track in Cologne, which is south of the vet clinic, tested positive for the highly-contagious disease, which means that the training center will be under a mandatory quarantine for three months. The Racing Post article did not speculate whether the infected horse in Cologne was related to the equine clinic situation.
Among the horses quarantined at Cologne is the filly Danedream, who won Europe's most prestigious flat race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamps near Paris in 2011. Danedream was scheduled to race in the Arc again this year; the race will be run this weekend.
In addition to Danedream, hundreds of other horses will miss their target races at tracks all over Europe.
Equine Infectious Anemia, which is transmitted from horse to horse by biting flies or by direct transfer of blood, has been identified in horses from eastern Europe, especially the nation of Romania. It has also been recently reported in Italy and Canada. The increase in traffic in horses around Europe and Romania's new role as a member of the EU mean that Romanian horses are likely to mingle more with horses of other nations.
According to the German government's information on the vet clinic case, the transfer of the virus from one horse to another is rarely observed in Germany. The infection is usually passed between horses in the pasture because horse flies do not fly into buildings or stables and flies are usually controlled inside the buildings.
Clinical symptoms are usually not obvious immediately after infection. A horse can carry the infection for several years without being noticed. Often stress (e.g., other diseases, re-housing, changes of ownership, work pressure) leads to virus replication and to the first signs of clinical disease, which are mainly fatigue, apathy, loss of appetite and eventually the onset of anemia. Fever, marked anemia and edema on the abdomen and legs occur in the advanced stages of infection.
Horses should be tested annually for EIA via the common "Coggins Test" required for equine transport in most states and to most equestrian events.
To learn more from English-language sources:
Previous articles from The Jurga Report include:
Thanks to the ISID for access to its disease monitoring systems.