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The Signs & Symptoms of Equine Infectious Anemia

The Signs & Symptoms of Equine Infectious Anemia

Equine infectious anemia is a very contagious and potentially deadly virus. Today, our Santa Clarita vets explain what Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is, including its signs, symptoms, and how it's diagnosed.

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)

EIA is a contagious, potentially life-threatening virus that affects the immune system of animals in the Equidae family.

While some animals infected with the virus don't show any symptoms at all (asymptomatic) other horses can experience severe symptoms including irregular heartbeat, weakness, swollen abdomen and/or legs, high fever, anemia, abortion in pregnant mares, or even sudden death.

A herd outbreak of EIA could have catastrophic consequences making it essential for horse owners to be proactive about having their horses tested for this disease.

How Horses Catch EIA

Horses can get EIA after being in close contact with an infected horse or after being bitten by a mosquito, deer fly, horse fly, or stable fly that has previously fed on an infected animal. This means that your horse doesn't have to come into close contact with an infected horse to contract the disease.

Because flies are attracted to barns and other areas that horses frequent, this serious disease can spread quickly between horses.

When Horses Test Positive For EIA Antibodies

Once a horse has been infected with the EIA virus, they have it for life and can transmit the disease (via fly bites) to other horses. This is why, horses that test positive for Equine Infectious Anemia need to be euthanized, branded, and strictly quarantined more than 200 yards away from other horses for the rest of their life, or transferred to a research facility.

The Coggins Test For Horses

'Coggins' is the common name for an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which is a blood test used to screen horses, donkeys, and mules for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).

Due to the seriousness of EIA and how easily it can spread between animals, the Coggins test is the best way to protect horses from this serious disease.

Because many horses that carry the virus don't show symptoms, it's essential to test all horses for the illness so carriers can be detected and prevent the disease from spreading further.

Coggins testing is required in both the United States and Canada when exporting horses across the border, and many states require testing in order to take horses across state lines.

A negative Coggins test is typically required before your horse can take part in competitions and events, and testing is highly recommended for all horses that spend time near other horses whether it's in fields or boarding stables.

How The Coggins Test Is Performed

First, your veterinarian will give your horse a thorough physical examination to determine the overall health of your equine pet and to look for any signs of EIA. Your vet will complete an EIA form as they perform the examination which will include details such as your horse's coloration, marking, age, and breed. Digital images of your horse will also be taken.

Next, a blood sample will be taken from your horse which will be submitted to an accredited lab for analysis along with the EIA form and the images.

Once testing is complete the lab will forward your horse's test results either directly to you, and/or to your veterinarian.

The Regulations Regarding Coggins Testing in California

In the State of California, all horses traveling between state lines require proof of a negative Coggins test dated within the past 12 months. This test must be completed by a qualified veterinarian.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your horse is showing signs of equine infectious anemia contact our Santa Clarita as quickly as possible to schedule an appointment. 

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Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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