EIA Outbreak Spreads to Northern Ireland

A foal in Londonderry County, Northern Ireland, was euthanatized after testing positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA), reported The Belfast Telegraph on Sept. 6.

The 12 other horses on the farm, including the foal's dam, are under strict quarantine. They are being tested for antibodies to the disease every ten days for the next 90 days.

The Telegraph reports that 21 horses have died as a result of the current outbreak, which first surfaced in mid-June. It is believed that two horses visiting the Londonderry farm from an EIA-affected area in the Republic of Ireland were carrying the disease.

In a statement released on Aug. 31, Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Food reported that it currently has restricted the movement of horses on 22 farms. Approximately 1,000 horses have been placed under movement restrictions since the outbreak began, and the Irish Equine Center has performed over 4,000 serological EIA tests.

EIA is a contagious blood-borne viral disease with no treatment or vaccine. A horse infected with the virus will remain a contagious carrier for life. EIA is spread by the exchange of bodily fluids, often via insects.

Horses can incubate and spread the virus for weeks before showing any clinical signs. These signs can include anemia, fever, depression, lack of appetite, and loss of condition along with muscle weakness.

Read the Department of Agriculture and Food's statement at http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=7586.  

Read the The Belfast Telegraph's coverage here.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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