Horse owners should get their horses tested for equine infectious anemia
“Although there are usually less than 100 cases of EIA [equine infectious anemia] reported annually, recent reports of a positive horse in Becker County, Minn., and 12 positive horses in northwestern Nebraska earlier this month serve as a reminder to test for EIA,” says Carrie Hammer, North Dakota State University Extension Service equine specialist.
EIA is caused by a virus that infects horses, mules and donkeys. It usually is spread by large biting insects such as horse and deer flies, but it also can be spread by sharing blood-contaminated objects such as needles and syringes.
Clinical signs vary with the stage of the disease. They include fever, depression, weight loss and swelling of the lower abdomen and legs. Chronically infected horses may appear normal between episodes.
No treatment or vaccine is available for EIA. Infected horses are believed to be carriers of the virus for life, Hammer says.
Horses are tested for the disease with the Coggins test. Only licensed veterinarians are able to submit blood samples for Coggins testing. Results can take up to seven days, depending on the location of the testing facility.
Here are other precautions Hammer recommends owners take to reduce the risk of infection:
• Implement insect control.
• Remove manure, which serves as a breeding area for flies.
• Use approved insecticides to spray on horses and premises.
• Isolate all new horses until they are tested for EIA.
• Use disposable needles and syringes and follow the one horse-one needle rule.
EIA is a reportable disease in most states, and a current negative Coggins test is required for horses traveling across state lines.