Four cases of swamp fever confirmed in American horses

Swamp fever, also known as equine infectious anemia (EIA), is much scarier than it sounds. It is the HIV of the horse world with no cure. Horses infected with swamp fever stay infectious their whole lives. Swamp fever is spread by mainly by flies, although in the past cases of vet medical equipment spreading the disease have been found as well. While this outbreak seems localized to a county in Kentucky, it is time now for horse owners to be extra vigilant in keeping flies down and monitoring your horses. When your first gets the disease – if it is acute, she will have a high fever, weakness (due to anemia) and perhaps a bloat abdomen or legs. Be sure to keep your Coggins test updated – this how swamp fever is detected. Vets must be contacted in order to contain the disease. Let’s nip this outbreak in the bud now! ~ HfH

From: The Horse

cogginsThe Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is reporting today that during the past two weeks, four horses in Western Kentucky’s Marshall County have tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA). These are the first Kentucky horses found positive for the viral disease since 2007.

A private veterinarian tested and found the initial horse positive, with the remaining three (3) cases discovered through testing conducted as part of a KDA investigation. Each of the horses were confirmed positive by additional testing and have since been humanely destroyed and buried. Seven additional “cohorts” tested negative on the initial testing. These seven remain under quarantine and will be sampled periodically during the next 60 days.

Though authorities are unable to definitively determine the route of transmission, they have not ruled out iatrogenic (inadvertent veterinary) transmission. The fact that one group of seven horses were commingled in a confined location the past 10 months with no evidence of transmission minimizes chance of natural transmission having occurred.

The horses testing positive are described as pleasure riding horses that have resided on one of two farms for several years and range in age from 6 to 21 years. When the KDA evaluated the positive horses, they found them to be asymptomatic (not showing clinical signs) and in good body condition. The older horses were all reported to have been purchased through livestock markets, and as such would have been tested negative at the time of purchase. These pleasure horses have not regularly participated in events that would require they be routinely tested and are defined as representing the “untested population.”

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
4 Comments
  • Maggie Frazier

    Is there still NO vaccine for EIA? I seem to remember many years ago reading about a veterinarian that disagreed with the use of the Coggins test, and the destruction or lifetime quarantine of any positive animal. Cant remember his name, but at the time I did feel he had a point! I did know someone who had a young horse test positive – and he kept him – in quarantine – I presume for the remainder of the horse’s life.

    September 14, 2015
    • jfinch

      Nope – no vaccine. For those who want to play in the conspiracy theory playground, this is a core place to be. At anywhere from $25 to $100 per Coggins test, and state laws saying that every horse moved or transferred must have a negative test within X number of months (Texas is 12) it is a great source of income for vets and labs. However, on the other side of the coin, it can spread rapidly, is a devastating disease and the lack of positive tests show it’s pretty well under control.

      September 14, 2015
  • Mustang Man

    I vividly remember the outbreak in the 60’s, we had 35 of our 180 come down with it and had to be killed. this is not something to play with it can be devastating, just ask any south american who still has to deal with it on a regular basis down there.
    The sad thing is I attend horse/livestock auctions monthly up here in the north west and NONE of them require or even ask for a Coggins report before during or at the time of sale for any horse coming onto their property. Stangles among other disease are a regular issues with two of the three I attend.
    I have reported this to the USDA division that supposedly regulates and watches over auctions with no response much less action by them. Quarantine any horse you buy from a auction or even a questionable owner for at least 5 weeks 6 is better as 3 weeks is no longer a good time frame for the new strains of Strangles much less EIA.

    September 14, 2015
  • Maggie Frazier

    I was under the impression that you HAD to have a Coggins done! And I agree, quarantining any horse before putting it in your herd is only common sense. Have seen Strangles in action (!) years ago – boarded at a barn that had a hack line & bought horses at Unadilla (NY) sale barn. Strangles went thru the barn once while I was there – vaccinated my horse once I was aware of what was going on!
    Moved him soon after that!

    September 14, 2015