On May 20, 2021, a positive result for equine infectious anemia (EIA, also known as Swamp Fever) was confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) national reference laboratory for a horse located on a premises in Sturgeon County, north of Edmonton, Alberta. The horse had been tested by an accredited veterinarian at the owner’s request because it was exhibiting clinical signs compatible with EIA infection; it died shortly after being sampled.
A CFIA investigation is underway and movement controls were placed on the on-premises contact animals as per program policy. Initial reports indicate there are other equines on the affected premises.
On May 24, 2021, positive EIA results were confirmed by the CFIA national reference laboratory for a horse located on a premises in Watson Lake, YK. The horse had been tested by an accredited veterinarian at the owner’s request to comply with a facility pre-entry requirement.
For both cases, a CFIA investigation is underway and as per program policy, movement controls were placed on the infected animal and its on-premises contacts. Movement controls will remain until all disease response activities have been completed, including follow-up testing and ordering the destruction of confirmed cases. Trace-out activities may require the CFIA to undertake actions at additional premises as outlined in the current policy.
EIA is a viral disease transmitted through the exchange of body fluids, often by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies and deerflies, or via contaminated instruments or needles. It attacks the horse’s immune system infects the animal for life. Symptoms (which may or may not be exhibited) include fever, anemia, muscle weakness, depression, and lack of stamina.
There is no vaccine or cure for EIA and horses diagnosed with the disease either die, have to be euthanized, or must be quarantined for the rest of their lives. A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of the EIA virus.