EIA Confirmed in Saskatchewan

blood-vialsA blood test can check for the presence of EIA. • Photo by Stacy PigottOn May 4, the Saskatchewan Horse Federation distributed a press release reminding horse owners about the importance of testing for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) after 10 horses out of a herd of 17 near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, tested positive for the virus and were euthanized.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) euthanized the positive horses on Wednesday, April 27, as authorized by the national EIA control program.

“We have tested for Coggins in the past, but this year was every horse owner’s worst nightmare, with most of our horses testing positive,” said Tricia Kroeker, owner of nine of the infected horses. “I would never wish on anyone else what I just went through. Fortunately, we have traced to the source and know that no horses came or left after the infection arrived. Please test so we can control this disease.”

EIA, which is discovered through a Coggins test, is an infectious and potentially fatal viral disease affecting the immune system of horses, donkeys and mules. EIA has been found frequently in Saskatchewan, with an average of 84 horses annually testing positive between 2011 and 2014.

“The Saskatchewan Horse Federation believes testing is necessary to mitigate the spread of the disease,” Saskatchewan Horse Federation Executive Director Krissy Fiddler said. “Testing, and ensuring horses that are in contact with other horses at events are negative, has proven a very effective means of controlling the spread of the disease in other provinces.”

“Disease surveillance and controlling the spread of disease is vital for the protection of all livestock, including horses,” Ministry of Agriculture Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Betty Althouse said. “Horses can be carriers of EIA virus their entire life and show no symptoms and therefore, unknowingly spread it to other animals. Unfortunately, it can be fatal to those other horses. That is why testing is so important.”

A positive EIA result must be reported to the CFIA and disease control measures implemented. All horses on the premises where the positive animal was detected must be tested and receive negative results before being allowed to move off the property.