CFIA Seeks Feedback On Proposed EIA Strategy

canstockphoto7416977 - belzFrom,  written by Margaret Evans  (complete article available here)

“Equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a potentially fatal viral disease that affects all members of the equine family – horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and zebras.

The disease, which is also known as swamp fever, is worldwide and was first detected in Canada in Manitoba in 1881. It is transmitted almost exclusively through blood or blood products, and infected equines are the source of all new infections.

Symptoms may include anorexia and weight loss, depression, weakness, intermittent fever up to 41 degrees C, jaundice, small hemorrhages under the tongue and the eye, and swelling of the extremities. Sometimes a loss of co-ordination may be the only sign.

The EIA virus is a relative of the human AIDS virus. Clinical signs may give an indication of EIA but a Coggins blood test is needed to properly confirm the diagnosis.

While EIA poses no threat to people it is catastrophic for equines. It is essentially untreatable. There is no vaccine and no cure. Animals remain carriers of the virus for life and they inadvertently transmit it to other animals through the movement of large biting insects such as horse flies or deer flies looking for a blood meal. EIA can be transmitted through the semen of an infected stallion and a foal can be infected before birth. It can also be transmitted through contaminated needles or blood transfusions.

The virus has the ability to mutate and evade the host’s immune response. A horse may appear to recover from an infection only to have the symptoms return.

Options for management are euthanasia or a permanent and secure form of quarantine. Extreme isolation for a herd animal brings its own level of stress and anxiety. Owners need to look realistically at the quality of life of the contained, isolated horse and whether it is an appropriate fit for the stricken animal.

CFIA is proposing changes and in February the agency released its report Proposed Risk Management Strategy for EIA Control in Canada. It is seeking feedback from stakeholders in the equine industry on its suggested game plan.

The CFIA report Proposed Risk Management Strategy for EIA Control in Canada can be accessed in pdf format in both official languages at the following links:

Written comments are requested by June 30, 2015 via email at, or by fax to 613-773-7573 to the attention of Dr. Carolyn James, Veterinary Program Specialist, Domestic Disease Control Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”


  1. What I submitted….. “Since when do you people care about equine diseases? You allow truckloads of mystery horses into Canada to be slaughtered every day. You rely on the honour system from killbuyers (typically bottom-dwelling humans who cannot earn a respectable living other than to frequent auctions and prey on our most vulnerable) that these animals are not diseased or buted up. But you are wondering about our thoughts on this disease? Wow, you have a whole lot more to worry about.”
    Karen Barker
    Horse owner

  2. I read through the report and not one mention of slaughter horses from the US. I have never heard of this disease especially it being a animal version of Aids along with there being no cure at all. You know that the kill buyers sure won’t spend the money having the truck load of horses one of them just bought at a auction tested for the disease. From the photos I have seen of auction horses some of them look ill and others are thin.

  3. Anne Streeter · ·

    How does this impact on horse slaughter for human consumption?

  4. sosbaiji · ·

    Very sad reading about this. One more thing for horses, and horse lovers, to worry about.

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