Berkeley County horse becomes third reported to have EIA this year


By: Jessica O’Connor

Clemson University’s Livestock Poultry Health department has reported that a Quarter Horse in Berkeley County has been euthanized due to equine infectious anemia (EIA). This brings the total number of cases reported in South Carolina for 2022 to three. Options for how to proceed regarding two other EIA positive horses in Barnwell County are also being discussed with Livestock Poultry Health.

These three cases of EIA are the first to be reported in the state since 2014, when a donkey in Aiken County tested positive for the deadly disease.

The State Veterinarian, Michael Neault, explained in an official release from LPH, “This is a very serious disease.There is no treatment for EIA, so if an infected animal does not die from the disease it will become a lifelong EIA carrier and serve as a reservoir for the disease, putting other equines at risk. For this reason, they must be permanently isolated and quarantined or euthanized.”

EIA is caused by a virus that can be carried by insects such as horse flies and deer flies, as well as contaminated medical and dental equipment. For this reason, owners are encouraged to obtain a yearly Coggins test for their horses even if they do not leave their home. A negative Coggins test is required by state law to participate in any equine activity that includes animals owned by more than two owners such as trail rides and horse shows. This paperwork is also required for horses traveling outside of the state line.

EIA can present with symptoms that vary from horse to horse, and can be similar to other equine diseases. These can sometimes be seemingly mild, such as elevated temperature and change in appetite. Other cases can immediately present with anemia, elevated heart and respiration rates, or even sudden death, among other serious symptoms.

Prevention is key. Horse owners can take steps to prevent the contraction and spread of EIA by ensuring that every new horse that enters the property has a negative Coggins test, making fly control and proper sanitary measures a priority, and scheduling yearly Coggins tests for each horse alongside their routine vaccinations.

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