British Columbia Horses Test Positive for EIA
On Oct. 21, officials at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) national reference laboratory confirmed positive tests for equine infectious anemia (EIA) in two horses on a premises in Peace River, Subdivision B, British Columbia.

The positive tests resulted from an ongoing disease investigation by CFIA. The affected horses, which had been involved in pony chuckwagon racing, were recently relocated from an Alberta premises where they had been exposed to confirmed cases. When the tests were taken, the affected horses had shown some clinical signs of EIA.

Movement controls were enacted on the affected horses and on several other equines that reside at their premises and will remain in force until all CFIA disease protocols are complete, including follow-up testing and the destruction of confirmed cases. Trace-out actions might be enacted at additional premises per current policy.

CFIA urged owners to enact improved biosecurity measures to help control the spread of EIA and protect Canada’s national herd.

About EIA

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.