On October 21, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that a horse in Two Hills County, Alberta, is positive for EIA. The owner had an accredited veterinarian test the horse, whom she had purchased from Bonnyville earlier this year, to fulfill a requirement for export to the US. The veterinarian did not note any clinic signs at the time of sampling.
The CFIA is currently investigating other exposures. They have placed movement controls on the affected horse and any on-premises contact animals. Initial reports indicate that there are other equines on the premises. The movement controls will remain in effect until the CFIA has completed all disease response activities. These include follow-up testing and ordering the destruction of confirmed cases. The CFIA might also undertake actions at additional premises in accordance with trace-out activities.
EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.
Equine infectious anemia is a viral disease that attacks horses’ immune systems. The virus is transmitted through the exchange of body fluids from an infected to an uninfected animal, often by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies. It can also be transmitted through the use of blood-contaminated instruments or needles.
A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of the EIA virus. Most U.S. states require horses to have proof of a negative Coggins test to travel across state lines.
Once an animal is infected with EIA, it is infected for life and can be a reservoir for the spread of disease. Not all horses show signs of disease, but those that do can exhibit:
- Progressive body condition loss;
- Muscle weakness;
- Poor stamina;
- Depression; and
EIA has no vaccine and no cure. A horse diagnosed with the disease dies, is euthanized or must be placed under extremely strict quarantine conditions (at least 200 yards away from unaffected equids) for the rest of his life.