EIA-Positive Horse in Pennsylvania

Equine infectious anemia (EIA) was confirmed July 13 in a Pennsylvania horse, said Bruce Schmucker, VMD, of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The horse is not showing any clinical signs of the disease and passed through Meadville Livestock Auction in Meadville, Penn., on June 29.

The infected horse was first tested at the Sugarcreek Horse and Tack Auction in Sugarcreek, Ohio, on June 24. "The blood sample (for an EIA test) was drawn at Sugarcreek and sent to our laboratory," said David Glauer, DVM, veterinarian for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

"Ohio allows equine to come to a licensed livestock market where there is a veterinarian to draw that (EIA) sample," said Glauer. "Our administrative code says that the new owner of that animal must maintain that animal on their property until they receive results. In the interim, the horse moved from Ohio to the Meadville auction."

Schmucker said Ohio officials alerted him that the horse's test from the Sugarcreek Auction came back positive and that contrary to instructions by Ohio officials, the new owner had taken the horse to the Meadville Auction for sale. Schmucker said the horse has been located, quarantined, and tested positive again for EIA. The horse is now considered a threat to the equine population.

"We have identified the other horses that were at the Pennsylvania auction through examining auction records and have notified the horses' new owners of the situation and recommended specific biosecurity measures and post-exposure testing," said Schmucker.

The positive horse is the only horse on the premises where he was taken after the auction. "Whether or not the property is satisfactory for lifetime quarantine, we still need to investigate that," Schmucker said. "The standard is that it needs to be at least 200 yards from other horses, and we've met that standard. We are in discussions with the owner now regarding continuing the quarantine under very specific protocols or the humane destruction of the horse."

Schmucker conveyed that this situation is very dangerous to the equine population. "We have the potential that the horse could have developed viremia that could be taken to other horses primarily through biting insects," he warned.

Schmucker also noted that while having a National Animal Identification System in place might not have prevented this situation from occurring, it could have made it simpler to control by giving officials the ability to more easily track potentially exposed equines.

"Owners can greatly reduce the risk of exposure to EIA by having their horses EIA tested and only allowing them to be in the presence of other test-negative horses," Schmucker added.

About the Author

Marcella M. Reca Zipp, MS

Marcella Reca Zipp, M.S., is a former staff writer for The Horse. She is completing her doctorate in Environmental Education and researching adolescent relationships with horses and nature. She lives with her family, senior horse, and flock of chickens on an island in the Chain O'Lakes.

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