EVA Uniform Methods and Rules Released

Today the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the release of the United States' Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) Uniform Methods and Rules (UM&R), which were effective April 19 and will serve as a standard for handling EVA in breeding and other situations in this country. The United States is the only major horse-breeding country without a current EVA control policy, and the UM&R takes the industry one step closer to establishing one.

The document is the result of nearly a year of organizing ideas set forth by EVA experts and APHIS officials who met in Washington, D.C., last year. It essentially will serve as a code of practice, or practice standards, for veterinarians and horse owners nationwide.

EVA is cause by equine arteritis virus (EAV) and is an acute, contagious, viral equine disease that can cause fever, respiratory illness, ocular inflammation, edema (swelling), weakness or sickness in foals, and abortion. Abortion rates due to EVA can be as high as 70%. EVA can be transmitted via respiratory or venereal routes.

While EVA occurs worldwide, most countries do not allow entry of carrier stallions and EAV- infected semen because of the associated disease risks. While the United states hasn’t had a devastating outbreak of EVA since 1984, when it hit the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry, it has been well known as a country without restrictions, and it has been referred to as a “dumping ground” for EVA.

According to the UM&R, the publication, “Contains minimum standards for detecting, controlling, and preventing EVA as well as minimum EVA requirements for the intrastate and interstate movement of equines.”

The standards apply to laboratory testing, outbreak procedures, control procedures, movement of stallions and semen, and recommendations for breed registries.

"It should be noted that these minimum standards and requirements represent a framework for creating a domestic EVA control program," the authors of the UM&R continued. "This document should therefore not be viewed as a final product, but as a work-in-progress that can be modified as science and technology evolve, as more experience in controlling EVA is acquired, and as resources become available to implement the program."

In January, APHIS put out the UM&R  for comments from the horse community. Tim Cordes, DVM, senior staff veterinarian for equine diseases, of USDA's APHIS, Veterinary Services, collected comments through February, and only received about 11 comments, most on technical detail. He said many of the comments urged the implementation of an international testing program. That could be possible in the future, depending on how the industry directs procedures in coming years. In the meantime, "We cannot stop horses with EVA from coming into the country, but we surely can identify and manage them," he said.

"The UM&R provides guidelines for owners and veterinarians for EVA,” he added, “The (EVA and infectious disease) experts hope that we portray this as a very manageable problem, one that with a sensible approach from both a regulatory and private practice vaccination standpoint, will eliminate EVA in the United States."

The document will be available to download in a PDF form tomorrow morning (May 6) at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahps/equine/eva/


About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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