Officials at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) have confirmed a Quarter Horse at a private farm in Carroll County with equine infectious anemia (EIA). This is the state’s first case of EIA in several years.
The positive test results came after the horse was Coggins tested for EIA by an accredited veterinarian during routine testing at an auction; the horse had not shown clinical signs of EIA. The horse was euthanized because of the positive test. No other equines reside on the deceased horse’s premises, so no quarantine has been enacted.
VDACS continues to investigate the source of the horse’s infection.
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.