Kansas Officials Monitoring EIA-Affected Facility

Kansas Officials Monitoring EIA-Affected Facility

A Coggins test screens horses' blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA.

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor

The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health (KDA DAH) is continuing to monitor a facility in Finney County where six horses tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) last week. The facility is under quarantine and the remaining horses at the facility will be observed and retested in 60 days.

An incurable infectious disease, EIA is caused by a virus that can affect horses, donkeys, asses, and other equids. This virus destroys red blood cells and is spread through blood-to-blood contact, not through close proximity or casual contact. Clinical signs of EIA include fever, anemia and edema; however, affected horses may not show symptoms. All infected horses, including those which are asymptomatic, are carriers of the disease.

The virus can be transmitted from an infected equid to a “clean” equid by biting flies, the use of unsterilized or contaminated medical instruments, or through a blood transfusion. This disease does not affect humans.

The KDA has identified a prescribed surveillance area within one-half mile of the affected premises, and is working with local officials and horse owners to identify any other horses that might have been within that surveillance area in order to test those animals.

The surveillance area is identified based on risk associated with the potential EIA transfer. The disease is mechanically transmitted via the mouth parts of biting flies, and research has shown that the virus survives for a limited time on the mouth parts of the fly vectors, so the area of possible exposure is limited to a relatively small radius around the affected premises. Symptomatic horses are more likely to transmit the disease compared to those that have an in apparent infection.

There are typically a small number of EIA cases in the United States every year, although the disease is common in other parts of the world. The disease is controlled in the United States by regular testing before traveling across state lines, exhibition, and other events. A Coggins test screens horses' blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA.

EIA Prevention and Control

There is no approved vaccine for EIA in the United States. In order to reduce horses’ chance of infection:

  • Practice good fly control by regular mucking of stalls, proper disposal of manure away from horse stabling areas, and use of fly sprays or natural predators to minimize fly presence;
  • Use a sterile needle and syringe for all injections or treatments;
  • Disinfect any surgical or dental equipment thoroughly between horses. Remove all debris and blood with soap and water before disinfection;
  • Only administer commercially licensed blood products;
  • Use a sterile needle each time when puncturing a multidose medication bottle. Consult a veterinarian to demonstrate how to use sterile technique when drawing up medications.
  • Require proof of a recent negative Coggins test at time of purchase or for new horses entering the premises. Require an EIA test for horses which have spent time at a premises where EIA-positive horses have been identified;
  • Only participate in events that require evidence of a negative Coggins test for every horse entering the event to prevent disease introduction and spread; and
  • Separate horses with fevers, reduced feed intake, and/or lethargy from your other horses and contact your veterinarian.
Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More