Earlier this year, the CFIA drafted a proposed national disease control program for equine infectious anemia. Stakeholders (horse owners and riders, land and stable owners, equine event organizers, veterinarians, equine transporters, etc) were asked to comment on the proposed program.
The Board of Directors would like to thank all members who provided feedback that enabled us to produce a program that reflects the needs of our diverse membership. We remain committed to our strategic objectives of Equine Health and Welfare and will continue to pursue programs that educate horse owners and help control the spread of EIA in Saskatchewan.
Report describes the work of the EIA Program Working Group and outlines their recommendations for the development of a future EIA disease control program in Canada. Implementation details including zone location, which movements will require mandatory testing, permitting and enforcement will be developed during the next phase of program design and with input from stakeholders. In addition, the scope of CFIA’s disease response activities will need to be redefined to account for a shift in resources towards the implementation and maintenance of the zone.
Equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a potentially fatal viral disease affecting horses and other members of the equine family, such as donkeys and mules. EIA-infected animals remain carriers of the virus for life and can be a source of infection for other animals.
The incubation period is generally two to four weeks, but may range from one week to three months.
Infected horses may show the following signs:
In some cases, a loss of coordination may be the only clinical sign. Foals infected prior to birth are often aborted, or die within two months of birth. Many animals show temporary recovery from the severe stage of EIA and may even appear normal for two to three weeks before relapsing with similar, but less severe signs. Episodes of clinical illness are often associated with the use of steroid drugs or with periods of stress such as hard work, hot weather, racing or pregnancy.
EIA has a worldwide distribution. The disease has existed in Canada since the 1800s, and is considered to be a sporadic disease in the equine population. The occurrence of EIA in tested horses in Canada is extremely low.
Transmission of EIA occurs mainly through the transfer of contaminated blood from one animal to another. Insects such as horse flies, stable flies, and deer flies aid in the disease spread. Transmission may also occur when blood-contaminated objects (e.g., needles, syringes, or surgical instruments) are used on more than one animal. EIA can also be transmitted through the semen of an infected stallion. Foals can be infected before birth.
A tentative diagnosis can be made based on clinical signs, but blood tests are necessary for a definitive diagnosis.
At this time there is no cure for EIA, nor is there a vaccine that will prevent an animal from becoming infected. Supportive therapy may alleviate clinical signs in individual cases, but it is critical to remember that infected equines serve as a reservoir of infection for other equines. The control of the disease is based on voluntary testing by owners, identification and destruction or life-long quarantine of infected animals, mandatory testing of imported equines, and efforts to prevent the spread of the virus by controlling insect and mechanical vectors.
Equine owners can take the following precautions to reduce the risk of infection:
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) imposes strict regulations on the import of animals and animal products from countries where EIA is known to occur. These regulations are enforced through port-of-entry inspections done either by the Canada Border Services Agency or the CFIA. EIA is a "reportable disease" under the Health of Animals Act. This means that all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA.
The CFIA places movement restrictions on all premises on which EIA infected equines are found. The EIA-infected animals and EIA susceptible animals are quarantined and all equines on the premises are tested for the disease. Equines confirmed to be infected with EIA are either ordered destroyed or placed under permanent quarantine where possible . Owners whose animals are ordered destroyed may be eligible for compensation.
Provided by the Government of Saskatchewan