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State Veterinarian warns horse owners of deadly equine infectious anemia cases found in West TN

The illness spreads through biting insects or sharing needles, and horses infected with EIA have to be permanently quarantined or euthanized.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's top veterinarian is alerting horse owners of a potentially deadly infectious illness that were recently found in two West Tennessee horses.

State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said the two horses in Shelby County tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA), a potentially fatal blood-borne illness. Health officials have put the stable under quarantine and are testing more horses for the disease.

“EIA is a devastating illness with serious consequences,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “Early detection is key to preventing the spread. Maintaining a current Coggins test on your horse is vitally important, along with practicing good biosecurity at home and on the road.” 

EIA does not affect humans, but is very dangerous to horses because there is no vaccine or treatment. It's typically spread through biting insects or sharing needles among horses.

A horse that catches EIA may show symptoms such as fever, lethargy, swelling, loss of appetite, or colic. However, some might not show any signs at all.

Infected horses have to be permanently quarantined or euthanized.

State law requires a yearly Coggins test to check for EIA before any horse is transported from its home farm to a different location. Horse owners should talk with their veterinarian to schedule a test.

Tips to prevent EIA infection and spread include:

  • Separate symptomatic horses and contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Do not share surgical or dental equipment that are contaminated with blood or debris between horses.
  • Keep the area in and around your barn clean and dry to reduce the insect population.
  • Apply fly sprays and insect repellants as needed.

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