On Aug. 24, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed a horse in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA). The horse’s owner requested the horse be tested to fulfill a requirement for export to the U.S. The horse was not showing clinical signs. The CFIA is investigating, and movement controls for the infected horse and the several other equines on the property are in place. The positive horse will be euthanized, and the official quarantine will remain in place until follow-up testing confirms no additional cases and all disease activities are completed. Veterinary officials recommend owners practice improved biosecurity to prevent the spread of EIA.
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.