On March 1, Equestrian Canada (EC) reported that a horse in Strathcona County, Alberta, had tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) national reference laboratory confirmed the case on Feb. 21, a statement on EC’s website said.

“The animal was sampled by an accredited veterinarian because it was exhibiting clinical signs compatible with EIA infection,” the statement said. “For humane reasons, the horse was euthanized shortly after sampling. A CFIA investigation is underway and as per program policy a quarantine has been placed on the on-premises contact animals. The quarantine will remain until all disease response activities have been completed, including follow-up testing and ordering the destruction of positive cases. Trace-out activities may require the CFIA to undertake actions at additional premises.”

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 a noninfected animal, often by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies, and more rarely through the use of blood-contaminated instruments or needles.

A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA, and most U.S. states require horses to have proof of a negative Coggins test in order to travel.

Once an animal is infected with EIA, it is infected for life and can be a reservoir for the spread of disease. Obvious clinical signs of the disease include progressive loss of condition along with muscle weakness and poor stamina. An affected horse also could show fever, depression, and anemia.