Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)


Equine infectious Anemia is a viral disease that is spread through blood sucking and biting flies such as deer flies and horse flies.  The infection goes the an acute phase (immediate illness) where horses generally present with non-specific illness not unlike you would expect from a human with the flu.  Some horses with develop anemia, which is low red blood cells, and all of the physical exam findings that go with that such as dark tarry stools or frank blood in the feces, yellowing around the eyes and swollen legs.  The bigger problem is that the horses that survive the original infection with the disease, become life long carriers of the virus which allows a reservoir for the virus to spread to other horses.  


It is recommend that all horses be tested yearly for the disease, which is called a Coggins test.  Transport requirements associated with horses requires that horses have had a Coggins to move across state lines.  A Coggins test is performed on a blood sample that is sent to the lab and is typically good for a year, though a few states only honor the test for 6 months.  Due to the shipping time and requirements from the lab to run the test, a bit of pre-planning is necessary to have horses ready to travel.  


Horses that have been infected with the disease have limited options because there is not cure and no treatment for the disease.  Horse owners of EIA positive horses have to choose to euthanize the horse or remove the horse to a life long quarantine facility which involves the horse always remaining within a stall that is completely screened in to reduce the potential exposure to biting insects.


The result of this horrible disease is catastrophic to both the horse and horse owner which is why this disease is taken so seriously by all regulating agencies.