On August 25, 2017, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Veterinary Division reported that a 14-year-old female mule in Johnston County had contracted equine infectious anemia (EIA).
The disease was discovered through a routine blood test by the NC Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Raleigh and confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is the first new case of EIA documented in North Carolina since 2005.
Said Dr. Michael Neault, NCDA&CS director of livestock and animal health programs:
“The Johnston County facility is under a quarantine order that restricts movement of equine until further testing is completed by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Because the disease is not curable, the affected mule has been euthanized. The remaining equines at the facility were tested and were negative for EIA. They will be observed and retested in 60 days, and we are monitoring neighboring facilities for the disease.”
EIA, sometimes referred to as “swamp fever”, is an incurable disease most commonly spread between equines, such as horses, mules and donkeys, in close proximity to biting flies and ticks. Clinical signs of EIA include fever, weakness, weight loss, anemia and edema, and death. However, affected equine may not show symptoms. All infected equine, including those that are asymptomatic, are carriers of the disease. The disease does not affect people.
There are typically a small number of cases of EIA in the United States every year, although the disease is common in other parts of the world. EIA is controlled in the United States by regular testing before traveling across state lines and/or exhibition. The test for EIA is commonly called a Coggins test.
There is no approved vaccine for EIA in the US.
To help prevent infection, follow these guidelines:
- Use sterile, disposable needles and syringes, one per horse, for all vaccines and medications.
- Test all horses for EIA every year, and at the time they enter a new premises.
- Keep stables and other facilities sanitary. Regularly clean stalls and properly dispose of manure away from horse stabling areas.
- Implement approved insect controls, such as insecticides and good drainage of standing water, to minimize fly presence.
- Only participate in events that require evidence of negative Coggins test for every equine entering the event to prevent disease introduction and spread.
- Isolate new horses on a property until they are tested for EIA.
- Never mix infected and healthy animals.
- Do not breed horses infected with EIA.
- Follow state laws covering EIA.
Equine owners who have concerns about their animal’s health should contact their local veterinarian.
For more information about EIA or other animal diseases in NC, go to www.ncagr.gov/vet/DiseaseAlerts.htm. If you have questions, email NCEquinePassport@ncagr.gov or call the Veterinary Division at 919.707.3250.
Source: Dr. Michael Neault, NCDA&CS Veterinary Division