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The state veterinarian is alerting horse owners of cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA), a potentially fatal blood-borne illness.

Two horses in Shelby County, Tenn. recently tested positive for EIA. The stable is now under quarantine and animal health officials are testing additional horses on the premises.

“EIA is a devastating illness with serious consequences,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “Early detection is key to preventing the spread. Maintaining a current Coggins test on your horse is vitally important, along with practicing good biosecurity at home and on the road.”

EIA does not cause disease in humans. However, it is very dangerous for horses because there is no vaccine or treatment. As a blood-borne illness, it is commonly transmitted through biting insects or sharing needles among horses. Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, swelling, loss of appetite, or colic. However, an infected horse may not show any clinical signs. If infected, horses must be permanently quarantined or euthanized.

State law requires a yearly Coggins test to check for the presence of EIA before any horse is transported from its home farm to a different location. Horse owners should consult with their veterinarian to establish a schedule for Coggins tests.

Tips to prevent EIA infection and spread include:

  • Separate symptomatic horses and contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Do not share surgical or dental equipment that are contaminated with blood or debris between horses.
  • Keep the area in and around your barn clean and dry to reduce the insect population.
  • Apply fly sprays and insect repellants as needed.

The C.E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory offers pet owners and veterinarians testing services for equine diseases, including EIA, West Nile virus, equine herpes virus (EHV), equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and equine influenza virus (EIV). Contact your veterinarian for more information.


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