Approximately 2 million people in the United States own a horse. One of the most serious conditions that can befall any horse is the equine infectious anemia virus. Here is everything that you need to know to understand EIA and what it means for a horse, as well as why an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit and available contract laboratory services make sense.
Who Gets EIA?
Equine infectious anemia is an infectious disease that can be contracted by horses and related animals such as mules and donkeys. For reasons that are debated, EIA is more common amongst horses than mules and donkeys. It is unknown whether this is due to something about the physiology of horses or has more to do with the preference of those insects that spread the disease as well as population numbers. Most worryingly, perhaps, is that the vast majority of horses with EIA are inapparent carriers. This means that they show no clinical abnormalities and it may not be known that they even have the virus without an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit or other veterinary diagnostics. A horse or other animal who carries EIA becomes an extended reservoir for infection; however, lower concentrations of the virus are present in their blood than those who show active clinical signs, so that only one out of 6,000,000 horseflies will be likely to transmit the virus from an inapparent carrier.
What is EIA?
EIA is a virus. It reproduces in the blood cells of a horse or mule and circulates throughout the body causing the immune system to produce antibodies. These antibodies can attack the horse’s own blood cells resulting in anemia and inflammation.
How Infectious Is the Virus?
EIA is normally transmitted through large biting insects. It is also possible for transmission to occur through contaminated needles or surgical instruments. Even 1/5 of a teaspoon of blood from a horse showing clinical signs of the virus can contain enough of the virus to infect 10,000 horses. The consequences to the community are so severe that legal liability can result, and there must be strict control to prevent the spread of the virus. An equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit from one of the reputable veterinary diagnostics companies should be used to verify the health of any horse showing signs of the disease. All farms, racetracks, stables, and other places where horses gather would be wise to ask whether any horse has been verified virus free by a clinical diagnostics laboratory.
What Are the Symptoms of EIA?
There are three phases to the virus. An inapparent carrier will show no signs the virus and cannot easily transmit it. However another disease or acute stress may trigger an episode in an inapparent carrier. During the acute phase of illness, the virus is actively multiplying and destroying the horse’s immune system. The clinical symptoms of EIA are variable. A horse may experience swelling of the underside and legs, wasting of the muscles, fever, depression, anorexia, infertility, or jaundice in the mucous membranes. A severe case of EIA can result in the death of the horse within 2 to 3 weeks. Because symptoms are so variable, the only way to know whether the horse is carrying the virus for certain is with an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit. A horse with chronic EIA will still have high concentrations in the bloodstream but may move between acute stages and remission.
What Can Be Done About EIA?
At this time there is no treatment available for equine infectious anemia, nor is there any cure. There is no vaccine available that can protect any horse, donkey, or mule from the EIA virus. Because of this, testing with an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit under stringent veterinary laboratory procedures is the only way to identify the disease and isolate infected horses so as to protect the community. At this time, good management practices are the only weapon against this disease. Management procedures begin with an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit and the right contract lab services to analyze it.