Equine Infectious Anemia The Facts

Veterinary laboratory services

The majestic beauty of a horse and the indescribable freedom of riding one make horses fantastic pets. Any threat to a beloved horse is tragic, but few realize the risk of virus-carrying insects such as horse flies and deer flies, which can carry the equine infectious anemia virus. EIA is a variant of the lentivirus and at this stage there is neither a vaccine nor a cure.

If bitten by an insect carrying infected blood or blood products, it takes between 15 and 45 days for symptoms to present. Sadly the majority of infections are asymptomatic, but the infected horse is still a threat to all nearby equines and as a result is either euthanized or quarantined if such facilities are available. Euthanasia remains the most common option. Those with no overt clinical abnormalities as a result of infection are known as carriers and they are reservoirs for the EIA virus although they have dramatically lower concentrations of the virus in their blood than those with symptoms. Statistically just one horsefly out of 6 million may pick up EIAv from such a horse and then potentially transmit it to other horses, but the risk is thought of as too great to allow such carriers to be allowed near other, healthy horses.

Equine infectious anemia virus expression in horses that are symptomatic includes fever, thrombocytopenia, which is a deficiency in platelets which clot the blood, anemia, and muscle weakness among other symptoms. These will appear one to three days after the incubation period is complete. Just one-fifth of a teaspoon of blood from a feverish horse infected with EIA virus can infect up to 10,000 horses. If an infected horse has severe, cure symptoms of the EIA virus, it is likely to die within two to three weeks.

Veterinary laboratory services can help to determine whether a horse is infected with the EIA virus. An equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit can determine if a horse is infected with EIA. Such equine infectious anemia virus antibody tests should be carried out at least once a year and as often as every six months in cases when horses travel frequently. Regular testing can protect your horses and minimize loss. You should also ensure that your stabling facilities test horses boarded there regularly and are EIA-free.