Protect your Horse from EIA
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a potentially fatal disease that threatens the world’s horse,
donkey and mule populations. The virus that causes EIA reproduces in the white blood cells that
circulate throughout the body. The immune system, via antibodies, may attack and destroy red
blood cells, leading to anemia. Infected horses may die from the direct effects of the virus or
from secondary infections. Despite testing and measures to eradicate the equine infectious
anemia virus, EIAV, more than 500 new cases are identified each year in the U.S.
There is no cure for EIA. Although most horses show no symptoms, they remain
contagious for life, endangering the health of other horses. For this reason, the United States
Department of Agriculture and state animal health regulatory agencies require euthanasia or
strict lifelong quarantine for horses testing positive for EIA.
Your horse’s only protection against EIA is prevention. Good management practices can
reduce the potential of infection. The following guidelines from the American Association of
Equine Practitioners (AAEP) will help:
• Use disposable needles and syringes, one per horse, when administering vaccines and
• Sterilize dental tools and other instruments before using them on another horse.
• Test all horses for EIA at least annually.
• Test horses at the time of purchase examination.
• Stable owners, horse show and event managers should require and verify current negative
Coggins certificates for all horses entering the premises.
• New horses should be quarantined for 45 days and observed for any signs of illness,
including elevated temperatures, before introducing them to the herd. They should be
retested if exposure to EIA is suspected at a 45-day interval.
• All stable areas should be kept clean, dry and waste-free. Good pasture management
techniques should also be practiced. Remove manure and provide adequate drainage to
discourage breeding sites for pests.
• Horses at greater risk, such as those in frequent contact with outside horses or who live or
travel in geographic regions known for EIA outbreaks, should be tested more frequently,
every 4 – 6 months.
For more information about EIA, ask your equine veterinarian for “Equine Infectious
Anemia: The Only Protection if Prevention,” a brochure provided by the AAEP in conjunction
with Educational Partner Bayer Animal Health. Additional information can be found on the
AAEP’s website www.aaep.org/horseowner.
Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.