We write a lot about rare diseases that affect people but what about the rare diseases among animals? If you own a horse, you’ve likely heard of Equine Infectious Anemia and the test that horses have to undergo to pinpoint it.
EIA is developed from a virus brought on from horse flies. Horses who test positive, have to be banished from the pack for the remainder of their sick lives. We’ve been very close to completely erasing the disease from existence, but a few cases linger.
The Coggins test is what is used to seek EIA in horses and are offered at places such as Texas A&M at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL).
The disease causes anemia and the decimation of red blood cells. Horse flies are able to hold a large amount of blood so they are the main sources of transmission among horses. After contact, symptoms last up to 30 days. Every horse has a different reaction. Some experience severe visible illness, none at all, or flat out death.
Twenty years ago, it became a Texas law for a horse to receive a negative Coggins Test for EIA whenever there was a change in owners or if the horse participated an event with other horses. Since then, EIA cases have been on the low side.
“We vaccinate for the encephalitides and West Nile viruses,” leslie Easterwood, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine told the battalion. “There are three encephalitis viruses that we vaccinate for, and then influenza and rhinopneumonitis, Strangles or strep equi, which is a bacterial disease, and rabies. Those are the most common vaccinations for horses.”
It’s also suggested to treat horses for EIA if traveling to or from Mexico considering that the country is known to have several cases of the disease.
We could only hope to see a continued decline of EIA among our equestrian friends.