EIA Confirmed in Canadian Horse
On June 23, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials confirmed a positive equine infectious anemia (EIA) test in a horse in the Municipal District of Bonnyville, Alberta. The horse was tested as a result of its owner’s request due to the horse exhibiting clinical signs consistent with EIA. The horse was subsequently euthanized.

The owner had adopted the horse earlier this year and moved it to their premises several months ago.

CFIA is investigating and per program policy, has recommended improved biosecurity measures to the owners to contain the disease’s spread. They’ve also placed movement controls on the other animals on the premises. Movement controls will remain in effect until the disease response, which includes follow-up testing and the destruction of any confirmed cases, is complete.

CFIA may undertake trace-out activities which could potentially result in actions at additional premises.

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.

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 condition loss;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Poor stamina;
  • Fever;
  • Depression; and
  • Anemia.

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.