Equine Infectious Anemia Reported In Virginia

Three horses in Virginia have tested positive for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) since January 1, 2001. EIA is an acute or chronic viral disease that affects horses and other equines. No vaccine is available to prevent the disease and there is no known cure, but the disease is detectable through the Coggins test.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges horse owners in all parts of the state to test their horses routinely for the presence of EIA. Wide usage of the Coggins Test during recent years has reduced the spread of this equine disease. The Coggins test is an accurate and reliable blood test. Horse owners can keep their stock from becoming infected by buying animals only after they have been tested and found to be free of any evidence of the disease. Owners should not take their horses to any assembly point - show, sale, race track, trail ride - unless prior testing is required for all horses.

All known infected horses in Virginia have been euthanized. The horses were imported to Virginia from other states, and buyers failed to obtain a Coggins test before bringing the horses into Virginia. The disease was detected through routine testing at livestock markets and on the farm in the Harrisonburg and Wytheville areas. Veterinarians and laboratory technicians at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are conducting an epidemiological investigation to determine whether or not other horses may have been exposed.

The virus is spread mechanically from infected to healthy horses by biting flies or contaminated instruments such as hypodermic needles. It is not spread by direct horse-to-horse contact. Symptoms include intermittent fever, depression, progressive weakness, weight loss, edema, and anemia.

For more information on Equine Infectious Anemia, contact the Director of VDACS' Division of Animal Industry Services at 804/786-2483.

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