Equine Infectious Anemia

Also known as swamp fever, this devastating disease is mainly prevalent in the southern United States, as well as in some areas of Canada.? The disease is spread through the bites of blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes.? As a mosquito bites an infected horse, then moves on and bites an uninfected horse, the second horse will be at risk to contract the disease.

EIA causes an overall decline in the horse?s health.? Infected horses become listless and experience loss of coordination, weakness, jaundice, fluid retention and small lesions on their mucous membranes.? Usually these symptoms occur in a cycle of every two weeks or so and typically come on after exercise.? There is no cure or treatment for the disease.? Although rarely fatal, the disease is so highly infectious that most countries have a strict requirement that all known infected animals must be either euthanized or fully quarantined in a completely fly proof building.

The best prevention of the disease is through aggressive testing and fly control programs.? Because the disease is so easily transmitted from horse to horse, and because many horses without symptoms can still be infected carriers of the disease, it is vital that all new horses entering a boarding facility or stable have a current Coggins test.? The Coggins test is a blood test that determines whether a horse is a carrier of the EIA virus.?

Fly control is also essential to preventing outbreaks, as with any insect-borne disease.? Reducing the number of flies attracted to your barn will automatically reduce your horse?s risk of being infected.? At this point in time, there is no vaccination available for the virus, so prevention is your best option.

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