SOUTH CAROLINA (WSPA) – Clemson University is warning the public about confirmed cases of infectious anemia found in three South Carolina horses.
The Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a blood-borne illness and does not infect humans, but is potentially fatal to horses and other equestrian species.
The school said the last known case of the infection being in South Carolina prior was a Donkey out of Aiken County in 2014.
State Veterinarian and Livestock Poultry Health (LPH) Director Michael Neault said that the cases recently have been in a quarter horse in Berkeley County and two contact quarter horses in Barnwell County.
The very serious disease has no treatment or cure, and once a horse is positive it will be a life-long carrier of EIA if the disease does not take the life of the animal first.
Veterinarian Neault goes on to push that if equestrian species were to contract EIA it would have to be permanently isolated and quarantined, or euthanized as to not put other like-animals at risk.
As of currently, the Berkley County horse has been euthanized and options are still being discussed by the Barnwell County owners.
The LPH encourages all equine owners to have annual Coggins tests done on their livestock, which screens for the EIA antibodies, even if the animal does not leave their homestead and especially those in boarding facilities.
It is state law that a negative Coggins test be required any time a horse crosses state lines, and when a horse is taken to an in-state gathering with other equestrienne livestock belonging to two or more owners. These events can include trail rides, horse shows, and competitions. Owners are advised to always bring test documents along with them when traveling.
Neault “All these diseases pose a significant health threat and are communicable to other animals… Thankfully we have effective equine vaccinations available against deadly diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis, West Nile Virus and rabies,” said Neault. “So it’s a good idea for horse owners to plan a regular Coggins test just like they do their animals’ annual vaccinations.”
Signs and Symptoms of EIA can vary and it can often be hard to differentiate EIA symptoms with other life-threatening diseases.
The University’s report goes on to describe the incubation period anywhere from one week, to sixty days, to longer. Also mentioned, acute cases of EIA can be as simple as fever and decreased appetite to severe anemia and sudden death.
Some tips to keep your livestock safe and prevent further infection of EIA are to; separate your horses from others and contact your veterinarian immediately to perform a Coggins test, apply to fly sprays to prevent parasite contact between animals, never share or reuse surgical or dental equipment between livestock, and test your livestock annually.