Equine infectious anaemia

Equine infectious anaemia is a notifiable disease

Under Queensland legislation, if you suspect the presence of this disease in horses, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland.

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Emergency Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888



A retrovirus


Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) is a contagious viral disease of horses.

EIA is notifiable under legislation and confirmed cases in horses must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland.

Where the disease occurs

The disease has been detected worldwide. In Queensland it mainly occurs along the major river systems but individual cases can be found in any area due to the movement of symptomless carrier horses.

The disease in animals

The incubation period is 2 - 4 weeks. The disease can be acute with deep depression, rapid loss of condition, generalised weakness, fever (up to 41ºC) and a clear nasal discharge. Anaemia develops as the disease progresses and pale mucous membranes, petechial haemorrhages and jaundice are seen. Oedema of the brisket and ventral abdomen and limbs occurs. Dragging of the hind limbs is seen. Other signs such as diarrhoea, dysentery and abortion may occur at later stages of the disease. Some horses may have periods of normality alternating with acute episodes of illness.

Occasionally animals can appear normal even though they are infected and test serologically positive.

How the disease spreads

Once an animal is infected it will carry the virus for life. When a horse is clinically ill, all bodily discharges from the animal contain virus and it is present in the blood system. The virus can be spread between horses by biting insects, multiple use of surgical instruments, grooming implements, other equipment such as stomach tubes and from a dam to her foal in the milk.

The disease occurs more commonly during a good wet season when river systems flood and there are large numbers of biting insects.


Collect blood samples to conduct serological testing. It may be 45 days from the point of infection before antibodies can be detected in the blood.

Control of the disease in animals

There is no specific treatment or vaccine available.

Eradication of the disease from a property can be achieved by testing, then removal or destruction of the positive reactors. Horses that are intended to be brought onto the property in the future should be tested before entry to ensure they are not carriers of EIA.

No government control measures are placed on properties where the disease is detected.

Can people get the disease? No

Further information

Last updated 31 January 2012