EIA Not Spread in Virginia

After two horses tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) on June 28 in Pulaski County, Va., 19 other horses within a one-mile radius were tested and confirmed negative for the disease, according to Elaine Lidholm, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

The two horses were diagnosed after the owner's veterinarian submitted blood samples to the Wytheville Regional Animal Health Laboratory in Wytheville, Va., to try to identify the cause of unexplained weight loss. The two horses, age 25 and 31, had been pastured together. One horse had been last tested and confirmed negative for EIA in 1994, and the other horse had last been confirmed as negative for EIA in 1998. According to the VDACS, the horses were euthanatized immediately to eliminate them as a source of infection for others.

"Even though there is no cure or vaccine to prevent EIA, horse owners can help control the spread of this disease by getting a Coggins test annually," says Lidholm.

The virus can be spread by biting flies or by contaminated instruments (i.e., hypodermic needles). All horses that travel in the United States must have current negative Coggins test results with them at all times. However, even if horses never leave the property, Lidholm strongly urges horse owners to consult their veterinarians about routine testing for EIA.

In this case, the VDACS representatives traveled around the area where the two infected horses had been kept and looked for other horses, says Lidholm. She noted that this process took several days. Lidholm believes that when the National Animal Identification System is fully implemented, it will greatly reduce the time it takes to alert horse owners in an at-risk area.

About the Author

Rachael C. Turner

Rachael Turner is the former Photo and Newsletter Editor for The Horse. She is an avid event rider. Rachael's main focus is dressage and on training young horses with the proper foundation for success. She is also a member of the United States Dressage Federation and the United States Equestrian Federation. Her website is avonleaequestrian.com.

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