EVA Prevalence in Spanish Horses

Blood samples revealed a 21% positive rate in breeding stallions compared to 6.7% in sport horses.

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EVA Prevalence in Spanish Horses
Central Spain has a high density of both breeding and sport horses and is a popular international competition area. | Photo Credit: Lbpetersen/Wikimedia Commons
In areas with large equine populations, knowing animals’ infectious disease status is an important aspect of biosecurity. That’s even more so in places where horses cross country lines frequently for competitions. That’s why Spanish researchers recently decided to verify the exposure rate of equine viral arteritis (EVA) in their country’s horse heartland.

“The central area of Spain is an area with a high density of horse populations (both breeding and sport horses) and also the area where the majority of competitions are held,” said Fátima Cruz-Lopez, PhD, DVM, of the Complutense University Veterinary School, in Madrid. “Furthermore, it’s a frequent stop for horses traveling to northern Europe. So it was a good area for comparing the seroprevalence of EVA in breeding and sport horses.”

Blood samples from 155 breeding horses at 16 stud farms and 105 sport horses at 12 riding clubs revealed a 21% positive rate in breeding horses compared to 6.7% in sport horses, she said. That doesn’t mean these horses have active infection, but rather that they have been exposed to the virus at some point in their lives and have developed antibodies against it.

“We weren’t surprised by our results,” Cruz-Lopez said. “Our study showed that it’s quite common to find antibodies against EVA in our breeding horses, but the experience in our laboratory tells us that it is not so common to find carrier stallions or even outbreaks of the disease

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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