Equine infectious anemia has been reported in multiple counties throughout Texas this year.
The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and Equine Disease Communication Center have confirmed multiple cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in Texas horses this year. The cases, initially diagnosed in March, have occurred in several counties throughout the state.
A viral disease with no vaccine or cure, EIA attacks the horse’s immune system. It can be transmitted from an infected to a noninfected animal via biting flies, the use of unsterilized or contaminated medical instruments, or through a blood transfusion. The disease does not affect people.
Signs of EIA are nonspecific and may include fever (>105°F), depression, edema, anorexia, fatigue, mucosal petechial hemorrhages, and rapid breathing, among others. Horses that contract the disease die, are euthanized, or must be quarantined for the rest of their lives.
A Coggins test (agar gel immunodiffusion) offers a definitive diagnosis for EIA. The test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that indicate the presence of EIA. Throughout most of the country, proof of a negative Coggins test is required for a horse to travel across state lines. The US Department of Agriculture requires that horses being imported from foreign countries have a negative Coggins test.
By law, EIA is a reportable disease. All positive cases must be filed with the state veterinarian and the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
TAHC staff is currently working with affected horse owners and veterinarians in Texas to monitor potentially exposed horses and implement biosecurity measures.