Two new equine cases of infectious anaemia have been detected in South CarolinaIngrid
This brings the number of infected horses in the state to five. Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) is a serious disease for which there is no treatment.
All five positive horses are from a horse racing training facility. The first three infected horses had to be euthanised, as reported by thetandd. The last case of EIA in South Carolina was in 2014 and involved a single infected donkey in Aiken County.
Equine infectious anaemia is a virus-based disease. The virus involved is transmitted through contaminated blood, from blood-sucking insects such as biting flies, but also through the introduction of injected needles or other medical, dental and tattoo equipment.
“Horse owners sometimes reuse needles when vaccinating multiple animals because it’s cheaper and easier. That’s an open invitation to spread the disease,” Michael Neault, who heads Clemson Livestock Poultry Health, a state regulatory agency charged with protecting animal health by controlling disease, tells thetandd.
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“Use only sterile needles and syringes: never reuse them. Good insect control will also help mitigate the spread,” he adds.
Infection results in lifelong persistence of the virus in the infected animal. The disease is not transmissible to humans but can be fatal to equines.
There are four degrees of manifestation of the disease in the animal. The asymptomatic form, the chronic form which manifests itself by a drop in form, anorexia, weight loss or intermittent fever.
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The subacute form with moderate fever, long duration and followed by recovery. The virus persists in these animals. Finally, the acute form with important hyperthermia, respiratory difficulties, severe anaemia or haemorrhages. In 80% of cases, the infected animal dies.
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“There is no treatment for EIA, so if an infected animal does not die of the disease, it will become a carrier of equine infectious anaemia for life and serve as a reservoir for the disease, putting other equines at risk. For this reason, they must be permanently isolated and quarantined from other animals or they must be euthanized,” explains Michael Neault.
Equine owners are encouraged to have an annual Coggins test – a blood test that screens for EIA antibodies – especially if the horse is boarded.
In the United States, state law requires a negative Coggins test every time an equine crosses a state line and at gatherings with more than two equine owners. Equine infectious anemia is a reportable animal disease in all fifty states.
This means that positive cases must be reported by the testing laboratory to local state or federal animal health officials within two days of discovery.
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