EIA Discovered in Southern France

Two horses have been euthanatized after testing positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA) in Ardèche, a department in the Rhône-Alps region of southern France, according to an announcement made by the French Minister of Agriculture and Fishing earlier this week.

A 19-year-old horse and a 21-year-old pony sharing the same barn in Vernon were euthanatized following positive results on Coggins tests May 25 and June 8, respectively, according to Stéphane Klotz, chief of staff of the state Animal Health Services division in Ardèche, which regulates animal health. Two other horses on the same farm have tested negative but will continue to undergo testing and will be quarantined until at least October.

Following the index case of EIA, which is a notifiable disease in France, an official quarantine was established for the farm and all equine establishments within a 3-km (1.9-mile) radius. Testing was also carried out in an equestrian center in Ruoms, 15 km (9.3 miles) southeast of Vernon, where the affected animals were stabled three years ago. None of the 180 equids tested were found to be positive for EIA.

Klotz said the origin of the cases remains unexplained.

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

Outbreaks of EIA in Ireland and Germany in 2006 claimed 28 and 11 horses respectively.

Through rigorous eradication measures, EIA is considered rare in France, with an average of one to two isolated cases detected per year over the past 20 years. The last recorded positive horse was 10-year-old Selle Français in the north-central region of Eure-et-Loir in April 2005. It was the first case in five years.

Except for requirements specific to Thoroughbred breeding and imported equids of any breed, regular Coggins testing is not required in France.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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