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Equine Infectious Anaemia (E!A)

This is a viral disease that affects:

  • horses
  • mules
  • donkeys

It is often fatal. If the affected animal recovers it remains a lifelong carrier of the disease and will be infectious to other animals. All infected animals must be humanely destroyed to control the spread of disease.

Please note: equine infectious anaemia only affects horses and is not a risk to human health.

What's the cause?

It is transmitted by large horseflies which are only active from May to September.

Although the horseflies only travel short distances to feed, the disease can be carried over long distances by infected horses or contaminated blood products.

The disease can also be spread through medical equipment such as needles and dental equipment or in the semen of infected animals.

The last outbreak in Great Britain was in 2012. It was found in 2 horses in Cornwall and Devon.

How do I recognise it?

Some infected animals don't show signs or the signs may be overlooked. Because they don't last for long, the symptoms shown will depend on the level of infection

Clinical signs can include:

  • A recurring fever.
  • Anaemia.
  • Tiredness, weakness and depression.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Poor performance.
  • Loss of co-ordination.

Any horse displaying severe, unexplained anaemia should be isolated and tested for EIA as soon as possible.

How do I prevent it?

There is no vaccine available so owners must put their own prevention measures in place.

  • Use insect repellant and mesh to reduce exposure to biting flies.
  • Make sure there is appropriate quarantine and testing of horses coming in from areas where the disease is present.
  • Make sure responsibly sourced and certified blood products, semen and milk products are used.
  • Make sure all imports are legal and have all the correct paperwork. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts.
  • It is advisable for horses to be certified disease free before breeding .


If you suspect Equine Infectious Anaemia you must phone APHA on 03000 200 301 immediately.

Please note: Failure to do so is an offence.

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