Agriculture Press Release

October 29, 1999

Crawford Warns Horse Owners to Be Aware of EIA

TALLAHASSEE As a result of a recent outbreak of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in Pennsylvania, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford is warning Florida horse owners to be aware of the risk of exposure of their animals to this disease.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed that 16 horses have tested positive for the disease. The source of infection has been traced to a horse auction in Harford, PA on September 18. Although an additional 80 horses in three barns are under quarantine, reports indicate that only individual horses are being put under quarantine, not entire barns, and that Pennsylvania officials are only doing random testing of horses in barns that have had horses exposed to positive horses.

EIA, commonly called "swamp fever" or "Coggins disease," is usually spread by large biting insects such as horse flies and deer flies. There are no vaccines available to protect horses against EIA.

Florida was one of the first states to implement an EIA disease control program. Last year in Florida, only 47 of more than 110,000 horses tested were found to have the disease. Florida tests more than 30 percent of the horses in the state for EIA, compared to the estimated 10-15 % of the horse population which is tested on a national basis. In spite of being in the EIA "hot zone," Floridas EIA control program continues to keep the disease incidence at a very low rate - 0.04 percent - while the national average stands at 0.1328 percent. This can be attributed to the Departments effective EIA control program, which includes strict rules regarding the importation of horses and restricted movement of infected and exposed animals, both of which are more stringent than most states in the country, including Pennsylvania.

As an added precaution to protect Floridas nearly 350,000 horses valued in excess of $600 million, the State Veterinarians Office will scrutinize the movement of any horses originating in Pennsylvania in order to insure the health status of these animals. This will be accomplished by tracking imports and doing epidemiological investigations to determine the origin of the horses and their contact with other horses.

Florida horse owners are reminded that horses cannot move or be sold in Florida without a negative EIA (Coggins) test within the previous 12 months.


For more information:

Jay Levenstein
(850) 488-7182

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