Much to the surprise of livestock owners in the Midwest, last month the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) confirmed a dozen cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in a horse herd located in the northwestern portion of the state. Although area vets state there’s nothing to worry about here, local equine owners have taken note of the situation.
The HIV of the equestrian world, it goes without saying that an outbreak of equine infectious anemia posts several red flags among horse owners. Exposing an infected horse to the rest of the herd can cause widespread disaster in a short time.
“It’s a horrible disease,” said DVM Sarah Benson, a vet at Bowling Green Veterinary Clinic. “Even if you don’t go anywhere, your horse should still be tested.”
Sometimes known as “swamp fever,” EIA is a blood borne disease that affects horses, mules, and donkeys, and is usually transmitted by biting insects like horseflies. The disease can also be transferred from one horse to another through the reuse of contaminated needles. As there are no treatment options for infected animals, EIA is usually fatal. Immediate euthanization is the normal reaction to the disease, although some horse owners choose to quarantine their animals. Infected animals must be housed at least 200 yards away from other equines.