After the confirmation of a third case of equine infectious anaemia (EIA), or swamp fever, in the UK in nine months, Defra are following protocols for managing an exotic disease outbreak and there have been calls for tighter border controls on equine imports.
But what signs do you need to look out for in your own horse, and how might they get it? H&H finds out…
â€¢ Swamp fever is transmitted by biting insects, infected blood products, from mare to foal, contaminated veterinary or dental equipment and other equipment that may be contaminated by blood (eg twitches and curry combs)
â€¢ Swamp fever can take on acute, chronic or sub-clinical (infected, but showing no signs) forms
â€¢ Signs of the acute form vary considerably, but include fever, depression, increased heart and respiratory rate, bloody diarrhoea, loss of co-ordination, poor performance, ataxia, rapid weight loss, skin swelling and jaundice. A chronically infected horse may have recurring bouts of fever, depression, anaemia, weakness or weight loss, interspersed with periods of normality
â€¢ Any horse showing severe, unexplained anaemia should be isolated and tested for EIA as soon as possible
â€¢ There is no cure or vaccine and any EIA-positive horse will be compulsorily slaughtered
For more information, download a copy of the horse industry’s Codes of Practice on Equine Diseases from the Horserace Betting Levy Board website: http://www.hblb.org.uk/document.php?id=43