Infected does not mean Infectious



Nothing New

We don’t think for a minute that it is purely coincidental that EIA was perceived as a problem in certain areas at approximately the same time that injectable antibiotics were becoming popular among some horse owners. Several of the “outbreaks” during the 1940’s, ‘50’s and 60’s were the direct result of the use a common hypodermic needle amongst multiple horses and many other “outbreaks” have had suspiciously similar circumstances. It is reasonable to think that high insect vector numbers and long insect seasons play a part in the incidence of the disease in some areas but it is doubtful that this was ever the case in Canada.



There is nothing new about this disease and it is very likely that it has infected horses in North America since the arrival of the Spanish horses on this continent more than 500 years ago. Although there has been some speculation on the subject, we have not seen any research to indicate that the EIAV or any of its various strains or mutations is any more virulent or persistent now than it ever was. Historically, this has been a self-limiting disease. The natural occurrence of EIA in North America has never been responsible for the devastation in horse herds that the current test and destroy policies have produced. The term “Equine Infectious Anemia” might only date back 169 years but the common term “Swamp Fever” goes back much further.



Our parents and grandparents as well as many of our aunts and uncles were directly involved in farming with horses in Canada and the US during the first half of the 20th century. At that time the horse population was considerably greater than today, exceeding 10 horses per square mile in most areas, in other words thousands of times denser over the entire country than what we see today. Many of these horses comingled on a daily or weekly basis, eg. school, shopping, marketing, social activities etc. Most of the horse owners of that era were aware that Swamp Fever existed but it did not produce the fear and dread that was generated in more recent times by the use of the Coggins test. If this virus was as contagious and as deadly as some people would have you believe, it would have had a serious impact on the horse population at that time. In truth the natural occurrence of EIAV in Canada was of virtually no significance to the horse owners before the advent of the Coggins based regulatory policy in the early 1970’s.