Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Alberta Confirms Three Horses With EIA

The horses had commingled with others involved in pony chuckwagon activities last summer.

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Alberta Confirms Three Horses With EIA
A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of the EIA virus. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse
On Nov. 5, officials at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)’s national reference laboratory confirmed positive equine infectious anemia (EIA) results for three horses at a premises in the Municipal District of Opportunity Number 17 in Alberta.

The horses’ owner requested the tests from an accredited veterinarian after they were informed that their horses had commingled with infected animals at pony chuckwagon events last summer.

No clinical signs were observed by the veterinarian at testing. However, per CFIA program policy, movement controls were enacted on the affected animals and other animals on their premises. The quarantine will continue until CFIA completes its response protocols, including trace-out procedures, follow-up testing, and ordering the destruction of confirmed cases.

CFIA strongly recommends that owners improve their biosecurity procedures to help control the spread of EIA and protect the 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.


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