eia in british columbia

The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reported Dec. 11 that two horses residing on one premises in Cariboo Sub. B., British Columbia, Canada, tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) on Dec. 7.

“The horses were tested at the owner’s request as exposure to EIA was suspected,” the EDCC said. “The horses had no clinical signs of disease at the time of sampling.

“A CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) investigation is underway and, as per program policy, a quarantine has been placed on the infected animals and their on-premises contact animals,” the EDCC continued. “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 as outlined in the current program policy.”

EIA 101

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 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 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. Not all horses show signs of disease, but those that do can exhibit:

  • Progressive condition loss;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Poor stamina;
  • Fever;
  • Depression; and
  • Anemia.

There is no vaccine and no cure. A horse diagnosed with EIA 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.