On July 19, officials at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) national reference laboratory confirmed a horse on a premises in Cariboo Subdivision C, British Columbia, Canada, positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA).
The horse’s owner had requested their veterinarian test the horse to fulfill requirements for moving the horse to another premises.
No clinical signs were evident when the sample was collected. CFIA is investigating and movement controls have been enacted on the affected horse and on other potentially exposed animals on the premises.
The quarantine will remain in effect until the disease response is complete, including follow-up testing and the destruction of confirmed cases. Per current policy, trace-out procedures might result in CFIA investigating other 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.
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 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.