EIA Cases in 2006; Anti-Psychotic Drug Deaths

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Equine Infectious Anemia Found In Virginia And Ireland In 2006

Widespread use of Coggins testing has greatly reduced the number of EIA cases, but it’s still with us.

Two horses on a farm in Pulaski County, Virginia, have tested positive. State veterinarians are spot-testing horses within a one-mile radius of the farm where the cases are located and encouraging owners statewide to test their animals routinely. The positive horses were tested as part of a work up by their veterinarian, looking for a cause of chronic weight loss.

There are also 12 confirmed cases in Ireland this year, which has triggered an aggressive isolation and testing effort by authorities involving all horses that may have had contact with the positive animals, and facilities where the positives and their contacts have been. To date, 14 premises and 280 horses are under restriction until they test negative.

EIA, equine infectious anemia, is a viral disease that is present worldwide. It is spread by biting insects or blood contact between horses. Although there is a wide individual variation in how quickly the disease progresses and how severe it is, infected horses face a future of cyclical periods of anemia, fever and wasting that eventually proves fatal. There is no vaccine.

In 2005, there were 177 positive tests across the United States, Texas leading the group with 57 positives, followed by Arkansas with 35 and Oklahoma with 23. As a percentage of samples that turned out to be positive, Arkansas led the states with 0.044% positive Coggins tests. However, one positive horse can do a lot of damage.

Anti-Psychotic Drug Consequences

Fluphenazine (Prolixin) is the potent human anti-psychotic drug that has surfaced in several show horse doping scandals and also turns up periodically as a positive in racehorses. A report from the veterinary school at Guelph and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association describes four horses that developed periods of stupor alternating with severe agitation, sweating, and abnormal movements. The level of fluphenazine in their blood correlated with them having been given a dose equivalent to only what might be given to a human. One of these horses had to be euthanized because the neurological symptoms were not reversible.

It’s bad enough that this drug is illegal. Horses metabolize it slowly and reports of adverse reactions continue to mount. The drugs required to try to reverse the effects are not likely to be in the average veterinarian’s clinic. Some regulatory bodies have banned the use of the drug for any purpose within their jurisdictions. Don’t allow it to be used on your horse.