Authorities Find Equine Infectious Anemia in Ireland

Three horses tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) at two Thoroughbred stud farms in County Meath, Ireland. It is suspected the disease was introduced through the use of infected blood products. This is the first time the disease had been detected in Ireland, and agriculture officials report the two farms are under quarantine and no further cases have been detected.

According to Paddy Rogan, MVB, MRCVS, chief veterinary officer for Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Food, state veterinarians learned about the possible cases on June 14. Rogan explains, "Two foals had died and a further foal and mare were acutely ill. The mare had been removed to a private equine hospital for observation/evaluation." The mare was euthanatized on June 13, and her remains were sent for necropsy to the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. Blood samples taken from the mare before her death were positive for EIA, and her post-mortem findings were consistent with the disease. Another foal from the same stud farm died in the same equine hospital on June 14.

In all, three blood samples from two stud farms have tested positive for EIA, and it appears the cases were caused by administering hyperimmune serum or through shared veterinary instruments. There is no evidence that the disease was spread by horseflies.

Authorities have placed movement restrictions on the affected farms, which will remain in place for 45-90 days. Restrictions could be placed on other farms if other cases arise. Rogan said, "There is no evidence of any transmission of EIA to other equine animals on the two affected farms, nor spread to other equine animals on any other farm which was in contact (through the movement of horses or other means) with the two affected farms."

Rogan said Irish horse owners have responded well to the announcements. "The very close linkages that exist between all levels of the industry in Ireland also contributed to the very rapid and comprehensive response (in performing testing and managing illness)," he said.

At press time, EIA had also been discovered at Berardenga, a prominent Italian stud farm. It is unknown whether the two outbreaks are related. Visit www.TheHorse.com for updates.

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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