MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) — The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) confirms the first case of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in the state in almost 15 years.
A horse and a mule on the same premises in Taylor County have reportedly tested positive for EIA. There is no treatment for EIA, making the only way to prevent transmitting is to humanely euthanize infected animals.
Dr. Julie McGwin, DATCP equine program veterinarian, says “Horses that are not euthanized must be isolated from other horses, which is not usually feasible due to their herd nature, and the lifelong quarantine creates animal welfare issues for the infected horse. Horses that survive the initial infection become carriers of the disease and are infectious for life. It’s important for horse owners to work with their veterinarian to have regular testing done for this disease as an infected horse can appear healthy.”
The DATCP says EIA is an infectious and potentially fatal viral infection that affects only equine species, such as horses, ponies, zebras, mules, and donkeys.
Symptoms of EIA can vary and may include fever and uncontrollable bleeding that can progress to weakness, weight loss, depression, and sometimes, death.
The disease is often spread through blood-feeding flies, such as horseflies and deerflies. It can also be transmitted through reused needles and syringes, blood transfusions, and other contaminated equipment.
Horse owners should implement fly control measures during fly season, sterilize all needles and syringes used for injections, clean and disinfect equipment shared between animals, and isolate any animals with an unknown EIA status until test results are confirmed as negative, according to the DATCP.
Officials say there is no evidence that EIA is a public health concern.
State law requires all horses coming into Wisconsin or traveling to shows be tested (also known as a Coggins test) and found negative for EIA.
If any horse tests positive, state law also requires the veterinarian to report this to DATCP within 10 days.
For more information about EIA, click here.