In a Jan. 11 statement, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) Animal Industry Division reported that three positive cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) were confirmed in Quarter Horses residing at a Paulding County facility in late 2018. Including these cases, there were eight confirmed cases of EIA in Georgia County in 2018, the GDA said.
In compliance with federal guidelines and protocols, the affected horses were euthanized. The remainder of the horses at the facility are under quarantine pending follow up testing in 60 days.
“With no cure, the most appropriate course of action is to euthanize the affected horses,” said State Veterinarian Robert Cobb, DVM. “The quality of life for these animals decreases dramatically; without humane euthanasia, there would be a prolonged struggle against this terminal illness.”
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.
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. Not all horses show signs of disease, but those that do can exhibit:
- Progressive condition loss;
- Muscle weakness;
- Poor stamina;
- Depression; and
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.