Alberta Confirms More Chuckwagon-Connected EIA Cases

The positive horses did not exhibit any clinical signs of disease.
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Alberta Confirms More Chuckwagon-Connected EIA Cases
A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of the EIA virus. | Photo: The Horse Staff
On Nov. 26, officials at the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System’s (CAHSS) national reference laboratory confirmed positive equine infectious anemia (EIA) tests for two horses on a premises in Big Lakes County, Alberta. The horses’ owner requested the tests after becoming aware that they had been exposed to infected animals last summer and were involved in pony chuckwagon activities. The attending veterinarian noted no clinical signs of EIA when testing procedures were performed.

CFIA continues to investigate, and movement controls have been placed on the affected horses and all on-premises animals they were in contact with. Quarantine will remain in effect until CFIA completes its disease response protocols, including follow-up testing and ordering the destruction of confirmed cases. Trace-out activities may lead to actions by CFIA at additional premises.

CFIA strongly recommends that owners observe strict biosecurity procedures to help prevent EIA’s spread.

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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