California Horse Tests Positive for EIA
On Feb. 17, officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) confirmed a 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare as positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA). The result came from routine testing for her return to the racetrack.

Sixty-two exposed horses on the mare’s home premises have subsequently been placed under official quarantine pending test results. CDFA will continue epidemiological tracing to determine if any other horses were exposed.

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.