EIA Reported in Belgium

Animal health authorities have reported a case of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in Belgium. The positive horse was found during an investigation into two horses from Romania that recently tested positive for EIA in Great Britain after a stopover in Belgium.

The information was included in a Feb. 2 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (or OIE) by Gerard Lamsens, conseiller général of the Service Public Fédéral Santé Publique, Service Politique Sanitaire, Animaux et Végétaux in Brussels. See the report.

Eighteen Romanian horses arrived at a dealer's stable in Belgium Oct. 21. Nine of the horses shipped to Great Britain Dec. 22, where routine post-import testing revealed EIA in two of the animals last month.

One person in Belgium bought the other nine horses in November. The buyer later sold one to a family member. The facilities where the horses are kept have been placed under quarantine. Authorities are tracing all horses that were in contact with the Romanian animals.

Equine infectious anemia is an untreatable disease of horses, donkeys, and mules, spread by the exchange of bodily fluids, including via insect vectors. Affected horses remain infectious carriers for life, and must be euthanized or permanently quarantined to prevent transmission to other horses. This is the first occurrence of EIA in Great Britain since 1976. The affected stable remains under quarantine.

U.K. charity World Horse Welfare previously raised concerns about the international transport of horses from Romania, where the disease is considered endemic.

"We are gravely concerned that these horses were ever able to leave Romania and to travel across Europe so easily," the group noted in a statement. "There is a legal requirement for health certification before export from Romania, which includes blood testing for EIA."

The British Equine Veterinary Association has reminded veterinarians of the risk of iatrogenic transmission of the disease, and advised members to, "continue to follow best practices at all times when treating or testing animals or using equipment, such as dentistry equipment, on multiple animals."

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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