Horse Owners Encouraged to Test for Equine Infectious Anemia

Horse Owners Encouraged to Test for Equine Infectious Anemia

Only licensed veterinarians are able to submit blood samples for Coggins testing, and results can take up to seven days to return, depending on the location of the testing facility.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is encouraging horse owners to get their animals tested for equine infectious anemia (EIA).

“Although there are usually less than 100 cases of EIA 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 can 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, and results can take up to seven days to return, depending on the location of the testing facility.

Hammer also recommends owners take additional precautions 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 proof of a current negative Coggins test is required for horses traveling across state lines.

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