Great Britain EIA: 50 Horses Exposed

Fifty horses were exposed to equine infectious anemia (EIA) at a stable in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. All horses on the infected premises appeared clinically normal but will be tested at 30-day intervals for up to 90 days. The two positive mares, which were recently imported from Romania, were euthanized.

This information was included in a Jan. 20 report submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) by Nigel Gibbens, BVetMed, MSc, MRCVS, chief veterinary officer for the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Equine infectious anemia is an untreatable disease of horses, donkeys, and mules, spread by the exchange of bodily fluids, including via insect vectors. Affected horses remain infectious carriers for life, and must be euthanized or permanently quarantined to prevent transmission to other horses. This is the first occurrence of EIA in Great Britain since 1976.

The positive mares were among nine horses imported from Romania via Belgium Dec. 22. A tenth horse in the same shipment originated in Belgium. According to the OIE report, the farm owner regularly sources animals from continental Europe.

"The consignment was randomly checked as part of routine measures to confirm compliance with trade rules," the OIE report noted. "Restrictions have been placed on the infected premises and one in-contact premises."

While some insects can transmit the disease, the report noted this concern seems "not applicable," as only the larval stages of potential vectors are currently present in the country. Consulted entomologists said active adults are present in Great Britain from May to August.

The British Equine Veterinary Association reminded veterinarians of the risk of iatrogenic transmission of the disease, and advised members to, "continue to follow best practice at all times when treating or testing animals or using equipment, such as dentistry equipment, on multiple animals."

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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