EIA Case Discovered Near New Mexico Track

A group of about 100 horses at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico has been tested for equine infectious anemia (EIA) by the New Mexico state veterinarian's office after a horse stabled near the track's barn area tested positive for the virus last week.

Test results have come back negative for all horses in the immediate area.

"The horse (that tested positive) came in from Texas," said Ruidoso's general manager, Rick Baugh. "He wasn't on the grounds of Ruidoso, but he was within the vicinity--that's the reason we took all the precautionary methods. I was really upset with the (New Mexico) Livestock Board that they let him stay where he was for so long (after they knew he was positive)."

According to state veterinarian Dave Fly, DVM, the six horses stabled in close proximity to the positive horse have all tested negative.

"Any additional testing being conducted is strictly a precaution, and the state believes the one positive test is an isolated incident," said Fly in a release.

As a further safety measure, all horses leaving Ruidoso Downs to travel are subject to testing by state- and federally-accredited veterinarians.

EIA is commonly called "swamp fever" and can be fatal; the blood-borne virus can be transmitted by an insect such as a horsefly or by a contaminated needle. Because there are no effective and safe vaccines for the virus, many countries have established control programs based on serologic testing. Positive horses remain carriers for life and must be euthanatized or permanently quarantined.

Fly recommended any horse that might have been in the Ruidoso Downs barn area during July and August be tested within the next 60 days as an additional safeguard.

Baugh said track veterinarians started testing horses on the backside immediately after they were notified of the infected horse. He expects the testing to be completed over the next couple of days.

After testing positive for EIA, the infected horse was removed and taken to a quarantine facility near Ruidoso, but not on the track's grounds. No other horses are quarantined.

Baugh said this is the first case of EIA he has been aware of near Ruidoso since he entered his position more than 15 years ago. He noted that horses shipping to the track for the Sept. 2 Ruidoso Derby and other stakes races over Labor Day weekend will be required to be tested before leaving the grounds.

"We've got horses here from all over the United States, and we don't want (any viruses) leaving here and going to some other state," said Baugh.

(Originally published at www.BloodHorse.com.)  

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