Stop Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) From Entering Finland

15.10.2010

<p>There have been numerous reports of horses and donkeys infected with equine infectious anaemia this year in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Great Britain, among others. This is a result of EIA being endemic in Romania and spreading in Europe especially through the illegal export of horses.</p>

The primary preventive measure is ensuring that no sick or infected horses are imported to the country.

In accordance with European Commission safeguard measure 2010/346/EU, revised this summer, all equidae exported from Romania to other EU countries must be tested for EIA before shipment. In parts of Romania all movements are prohibited. In addition to this, in Finland and other EU countries all equidae other than equidae moved for slaughter must be isolated for a minimum of 30 days at the place of destination supervised by an official veterinarian, and the official veterinarian must also carry out tests for EIA.

The majority of the European EIA cases have been found in routine testing connected with imports, with the authorities carrying out tests for the EIA antibodies in horses. Only some of the horses have shown clinical symptoms. It is easy to miss the atypical, short-term and intermittent symptoms of EIA. This is why there are likely to be considerably more cases of the disease in Europe. The last case of EIA in Finland was found in 1943.

Tightened Import Restrictions from Romania

Increased movement of equidae from one country to another increases the risk of the disease spreading. According to the Romanian authorities, it is difficult to control the illegal exporters and although veterinarians and the police collaborate in testing, the authorities are not always aware of horses being exported since the animals are not recorded in TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System).

All equidae shipped from Romania must be microchipped. The place of destination must be declared in advance through the TRACES system at least 36 hours prior to the arrival of the equidae.

Variable Symptoms

Equine infectious anaemia is a non-curable viral disease that weakens the infected animal and eventually leads to death.

The symptoms of EIA are variable. In the acute form the disease can kill in a few weeks but normally the natural infection only causes the animal to have short-term fever. The progress of the chronic form of the disease is slow and will eventually lead to a strong anaemia, cachexy and death.

If the animal survives the acute stage it will remain infectious for life and can transmit the disease. EIA is normally spread by a variety of bloodsucking or biting insects. The virus is also transmitted from a mare to its foetus. The disease is not transmitted to people. There is no vaccination for EIA.

If you suspect that your horse is infected with EIA contact a veterinarian immediately. Examinations and test samples for EIA carried out by an official veterinarian are paid for by the government. 

Further information:
Import from other EU countries, Internal Market trade: Senior Inspector Jaana Vuolle, tel. +358 (0)40 489 3322
Import from non-EU countries: Border Veterinarian Mari Lassila, tel. +358 (0)50 337 1893
Disease Resistance: Senior Inspector Jenni Kiilholma, tel. +358 (0)40 489 3348
Diagnostics: Senior Researcher Karoliina Alm-Packalén, tel. +358 (0)40 486 0052

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