Yukon Territory Horse Confirmed to Have Equine Infectious Anemia
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)’s national reference laboratory confirmed a horse in the rural municipality of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, with equine infectious anemia (EIA) on Feb. 19. Although the horse showed no clinical signs of disease, the owner requested veterinary testing after assuming ownership of the horse.

Other horses that reside at the affected premises are under movement controls, which will remain in effect until all responses to disease are completed, including testing and euthanasia of EIA-positive horses.

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, 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 the EIA virus. Most U.S. states require horses to have proof of a negative Coggins test to travel across state lines.

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.

EIA has no vaccine and no cure. A horse diagnosed with the disease 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.