EIA in Georgia horses

Three horses in Georgia tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA), the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reported Aug. 6.

“The Georgia Department of Agriculture has confirmed … EIA in three horses in Lamar County,” the EDCC said. “The positive horses were identified through surveillance for an EIA trace initiated in another state and were euthanized. The remainder of the herd is under quarantine pending following up testing in 60 days.”

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. This can occur via blood-feeding insects or the use of blood-contaminated instruments or needles.

A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA. 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. There is no vaccine and no cure.

A horse diagnosed positive for EIA dies, is euthanized, or must be placed under extremely strict quarantine conditions (at least 200 yards away from other unaffected equids) for the rest of his life.