CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Three horses in South Carolina have tested positive for equine infectious anemia, a blood-borne, potentially deadly illness, the Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture unit reported Friday.
The first case was in a quarter horse in Berkeley County. The other two quarter horse cases are in Barnwell County, state Veterinarian Michael Neault said in a news release.
These are the first cases of the illness in South Carolina since 2014, when a donkey tested positive in Aiken County, Neault said.
The virus that causes EIA is often transmitted by bloodsucking insects like biting flies but also can be introduced by infected needles or other medical, dental or tattoo equipment. The illness does not affect humans but is potentially deadly to horses and other equine species, Neault said.
“This is a very serious disease,” Neault said. “There is no treatment for EIA, so if an infected animal does not die from the disease it will become a lifelong EIA carrier and serve as a reservoir for the disease, putting other equines at risk. For this reason, they must be permanently isolated and quarantined or euthanized.”
The infected horse in Berkeley County has been euthanized. Clemson University’s Livestock Poultry Health regulatory agency, which Neault also directs, is discussing options with the owners of the two affected horses in Barnwell County.
Symptoms can range from fever and decreased appetite to severe anemia and sudden death, experts said.
Livestock Poultry Health encourages horse owners to have an annual Coggins tests, a blood test that screens for EIA antibodies, performed on their horses especially if they are housed at a boarding facility.
State law requires a negative Coggins test any time horses cross state lines and when owners take their horses to in-state gatherings of animals belonging to more than two horse owners — such as trail rides, horse shows or competitions. Owners should bring Coggins test documents with them when traveling with horses.
EIA is a reportable animal disease in all 50 states.