What is equine infectious anemia?

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  • Non-contagious but infectious disease of horses, donkeys and mules;
  • Viral disease which affects the animal’s immune system, something like HIV in humans;
  • Symptoms include fever, anorexia, muscle weakness and wasting, swelling of the underside of belly and legs;
  • Horses infected with the EIA virus carry it for life;
  • Transmitted by larger bloodsucking insects, mainly horseflies and deer flies. Contaminated needles and surgical instruments can also spread the virus;
  • Infected horses don’t necessarily show symptoms, but will still be ‘carriers’ and thus, a risk to other horses;
  • No treatment or cure for EIA, and no vaccine to prevent it;
  • Diagnosed by testing a horse’s blood, with the original test developed by Dr. Leroy Coggins in 1970;
  • EIA is found around the world. It’s been in Canada since the 1800s;
  • Control is based on voluntary testing, identification and destruction of infected animals.

About the author


Dianne Finstad

Dianne Finstad is a Red Deer based reporter and broadcaster who specializes in agriculture and rodeo coverage. She has over thirty years of experience bringing stories to light through television, radio, and print; and has a real passion for all things farm and western.



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