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Six Horses in Tennessee Quarantined After Testing Positive for Equine Infectious Anemia
 By Winniefield Park   •   30th Mar 2014   •   9,848 views   •   0 comments
Six Horses in Tennessee Quarantined After Testing Positive for Equine Infectious Anemia

Six horses in Tennessee have been put in quarantine after testing positive for Equine Infectious Anemia. Horse owners in the state are being advised to test for the virus. Equine Infection Anemia is most commonly spread from horse to horse through mosquitoes. The insect draws blood from one horse carrying the virus. The virus multiplies in the mosquito, but does not harm it. When the mosquito has another blood meal, a small amount of the virus is 'injected' into the next victim, along with the anti-coagulating saliva it uses to make sure that the tiny wound it made doesn't seal over before it's finished its meal. It's also this saliva that our body reacts to by becoming red and itchy.

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EIA can also be transferred through unsanitary veterinary equipment, from stallion to mare and from mare to foal, either before the foal is born or from the mare's milk.

Incidences of EIA have occurred world-wide, so there is no place where this disease isn't a concern. It is most prevalent in areas where mosquito populations are high, but testing isn't required. In areas that require testing, there is a markedly fewer incidents of EIA, despite a high mosquito population. Something called a Coggins test (also called an AGID test), or an ELSA test is used to determine if the virus is in the horse's blood stream. Many areas of the world require horses to have this test yearly, and many associations require horses competing in their events to have a negative Coggins test.

EIA damages the immune system and horses that get it will have the following symptoms:

Restlessness

Higher than normal temperature, respiration and pulse

Weakness

Poor coordination

Abortion in broodmares

Poor overall health and energy levels

A fever may rise and fall quickly. Jaundice, an indication of liver failure and fluid retention (swelling) may develop. There may also be small sores on the mucous membranes such as cheeks, nostrils, and inside of the mouth. The virus is actually very similar to the one that causes human HIV, and the effects can be just as devastating. About 30% of horses who get EIA die within a short time. Some horses will appear to recover, then repeatedly have a return of the symptoms, often in response to stress such as extreme heat, heavy workload or drug sensitivities. Or, a horse may appear to recover fully, but will still carry the virus for the rest of its life, and could infect other horses. The owner will then have a very difficult decision. Either keep the horse totally quarantined for the rest of its life, or euthanize it.

Unfortunately, unlike a few other diseases transmissible by mosquitoes like WNV and Equine Viral Arteritis, there is no vaccination for EIA. The only way to control it, besides testing is by controlling mosquitoes. This means taking measures to reduce mosquitoes around your horse's home and using repellents, blankets and masks to keep them off of your horse.

Let's hope that the outbreak in Tennessee has reached its peak, and that no more horses have been infected. Many of us know what it is like to lose a horse and can only imagine the frustration and sorrow of having to lose a horse to such a disease.
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