On June 8, the Queensland, Australia, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) reported that equine infectious anemia (EIA) was confirmed on a central coast property. While the disease is detected frequently along western Queensland's river systems and on the Central Highlands, detection along the Queensland coast and in southeast Queensland is uncommon.

Three horses on a property south of Mackay in the Flaggy Rock area tested EIA-positive. Dr. Kevin Seppanen at the DPI&F said the diagnosis by a private practitioner had been confirmed following DPI&F laboratory blood testing of the afflicted horses. He said the original source of the infection remains a mystery.

Equine infectious anemia is a viral disease that attacks the horse's immune system and is most commonly detected with the Coggins test. The virus is transmitted by the exchange of body fluids from an infected to a non-infected animal, often by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies. Once an animal is infected with EIA, it is infected for life and can be a reservoir for the spread of disease. Obvious clinical signs of the disease include progressive loss of condition along with muscle weakness and poor stamina. An affected horse also could show fever, depression, and anemia.

Seppanen said he has been encouraging local equine owners to check their horses for signs of EIA and to contact their veterinarians with concerns.

According to the DPI&F, legislation should be amended soon to make EIA a notifiable disease in Queensland. In the meantime, DPI&F has requested that horse owners submit information on any further EIA cases and has offered assistance to horse owners in managing the disease.

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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