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Equine Infectious Anemia Found in NC Horses

Equine Infectious Anemia Found in NC Horses

RALEIGH – A horse in Surry County, has tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) over the past week. A horse in Henderson county has also tested suspect for having EIA and is awaiting confirmatory test results from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are no direct epidemiological links between the cases at this time, however, both cases have been associated with recent sales of racing horses.

The disease was discovered through collaborative efforts by private veterinary practitioners, NCDA&CS Veterinary Division field staff, the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Raleigh, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These are the first new and suspected cases of EIA documented in North Carolina since August 2017.

“Both facilities are under quarantine, which restricts movement of equine until testing is completed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the epidemiological investigation is further along,” said Dr. Catherine Harris, director of Livestock Health Programs. “The remaining equines will be observed and retested in 60 days. We are also monitoring neighboring facilities for the disease.”

EIA is an incurable disease commonly spread by biting flies and ticks or shared medical equipment between equines, such as horses, mules and donkeys. Clinical signs of EIA include fever, weakness, weight loss, anemia, edema and death. However, affected equine may not show symptoms. All infected equine, including those that are asymptomatic, are carriers of the disease. The disease does not affect people.

There are typically a small number of cases of EIA in the United States every year, although the disease is common in other parts of the world. EIA is controlled in the United States by regular testing before traveling across state lines and/or exhibition. The test for EIA is commonly called a Coggins test. There is no approved vaccine for EIA in the United States.

To help prevent infection, follow these guidelines:

  • Use sterile, disposable needles and syringes, one per horse, for all vaccines and medications.
  • Test all horses for EIA every year, and at the time they enter a new premises.
  • Keep stables and other facilities sanitary. Regularly clean stalls and properly dispose of manure away from horse stabling areas.
  • Implement approved insect controls, such as insecticides and good drainage of standing water, to minimize fly presence.
  • Only participate in events that require evidence of negative Coggins test.
  • Isolate new horses on a property until they are tested for EIA.
  • Never mix infected and healthy animals. Do not breed horses infected with EIA.

Equine owners who have concerns about their animal’s health should contact their local veterinarian. For more information about EIA or other reportable animal diseases please call the Veterinary Division at 919-707-3250.