Alberta Horse Confirmed With EIA
On Feb. 2, Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System (CAHSS) confirmed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) national reference laboratory received a positive test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) from a horse on a Pincher Creek No. 9 premises in Alberta. The owner had requested CFIA test the horse for export purposes and no clinical signs were evident at the time of sampling.

CFIA implemented an official quarantine for the affected horse and all other exposed equids on the premises until the agency’s response protocols have been completed, including follow-up testing and euthanization of confirmed cases. In the course of follow-up activities, CFIA may initiate actions at other premises as well.

Officials recommend that owners implement improved biosecurity 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.