The Montana Department of Livestock’s Animal Health Division has scheduled a meeting to update Gallatin County horse owners on its epidemiological investigation of two horses recently infected with equine infectious anemia (EIA). The meeting is set for 10 a.m. on Monday, May 17, at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds (Building #4).
EIA in Gallatin County was first reported on April 26 after a Coggins test – a screening test for EIA required for movement into or out of Montana – performed by the department’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory identified the disease in one of three horses at a premises near Gallatin Gateway. The disease was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, and subsequent testing identified and confirmed the disease in a second horse at the premises.
The two horses are currently quarantined pending transfer to the NVSL later this month.
Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, a staff veterinarian for the department, said the news about EIA created quite a stir among Gallatin County horse owners.
“We’ve had a lot of calls from horse owners,” she said. “They are understandably concerned, and our goal is providing accurate, up to date information on the disease as well as our investigation.”
Szymanski added that horse owners concerned about EIA “can buy some piece of mind” by having their horses Coggins tested.
“We recommend annual testing, and like to see horses that travel for equine-related events tested twice a year,” she said.
Also known as swamp fever, EIA is potentially fatal viral disease of equines spread by biting insects like horse and deer flies that feed on blood. No vaccine or treatment exists for the disease, which is characterized by intermittent fever, depression, progressive weakness, weight loss, edema (fluid under the skin or in body cavities) and anemia. The disease is not contagious, and cannot be passed to humans.
For additional information about EIA or the meeting, please contact Dr. Szymanski or public information officer Steve Merritt at 406/444-2043.
Posted by Kaci Switzer