Horse tests positive for Equine Infectious Anemia in Weld County; 200 others exposed, Ag. dept. says

WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- The Colorado Department of Agriculture is looking for more than 100 horses who may have been exposed to Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) after a horse in Weld County tested positive for the disease in late August. 

CDA officials said Friday records from several different state agencies show that approximately 240 horses were on the same quarantined premises as the horse who tested positive for the disease. About 100 of those were sent to 20 other states across the country.

“We are working to locate approximately 140 horses that went to different premises across Colorado. We are asking horse owners to contact us if they purchased horses in Weld County between July 18 to August 20, 2018,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “We will work with owners to see if their horses came from the quarantined property. This is an important step in the disease investigation.”

Officials said the investigation into the EIA case has led to a quarantine order in Weld County and to "hold orders" in several premises across Colorado including Weld, Adams, Arapahoe, Crowley, Delta, Douglas, El Paso, Mesa, and Montrose counties. On Monday, officials said there were hold orders on 26 premises in 13 counties.

So far, 37 exposed horses have been found throughout the state. 

Because there is no cure or treatment for EIA, the horse that tested positive for EIA has been euthanized, CDA officials said. 

Both the quarantine and hold orders will remain in place until the exposed horses on the premises test negative for EIA at the 60-day re-test, which is the last known date of exposure to the positive horse. 

The CDA continues to actively monitor compliance with quarantine and hold orders, and officials said the department has the legal authority to fine people who violate the rules. 

FAQs about Equine Infectious Anemia

1. What is Equine Infectious Anemia?

Equine Infectious Anemia is a viral disease spread by bloodsucking insects, inappropriate use of needles, or other equipment used between susceptible equine animals such as horses, mules and donkeys. Horses may not appear to have any symptoms of the disease, although it also can cause high fever, weakness, weight loss, an enlarged spleen, anemia, weak pulse and even death.

2. How is it spread?

It is spread most commonly through blood by biting flies such as horse flies and deer flies.

3. What happens to an infected horse?

There is no cure for the disease, so animals which test positive or are infected have to be quarantined for life or euthanized.

4. Is there a danger to people?

No. The disease can only be spread to horses, mules and donkeys.

5. Is the disease common?

No. There has only been a small number of cases in the United States, although the disease exists in other parts of the world. A map of cases from the year 2017 is available here.

6. How is the disease controlled?

Equine Infectious Anemia is a disease for which horses must be tested annually before they can be transported across state lines. The test for EIA is commonly called a Coggins Test.

Editor's note: The FAQ provided above comes from the Colorado Department of Agriculture's website.

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