Iowa Horses Remain Under Quarantine Following EIA Outbreak
Officials at the Iowa Department of Agriculture issued an update on March 12 stating that the Polk County facility where three horses were confirmed with equine infectious anemia (EIA) was quarantined immediately following notification of a positive test result. The positive horses were euthanized, and all remaining horses will remain quarantined at the facility for 60 days after their last-known exposure. They will then be retested, and when all remaining horses have tested negative following a 60-day period, the quarantine will be released.

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.