CFIA Consults on Equine Infectious Anemia Protocols

CFIA EQUINE INFECTIOUS ANEMIA PROTOCOLS

Equine Canada is looking for your response to the Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) protocols that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has proposed, in consultation with Equine Canada’s Health and Welfare Committee. Letters are to be received by January 27th and drafts for this can be found at the end of this post for your review. These responses can be submitted through Marnie Somers (marnie@horsescoops.com) President of the Canadian Quarter Horse Association, to be collated on a “per association” basis for submission to Equine Canada and CFIA.

In 2011, there was a resurgence of EIA positive horses identified in Canada – a total of 179 EIA positive animals were detected.  As of November 30, 2011, EIA maps are available on the CFIA website at :http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/equianem/20110907inde.shtml

EIA continues to be detected in Western Canada, particularly in the northern parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as in Yukon. There have been more positive cases in December and those maps will be updated very soon.  Horses that share a premise with a horse that carries the virus are most likely to become infected.

The CFIA is going to be redesigning the EIA program and one of the fundamental components is going to be encouraging industry to take a more active role in the delivery of the “voluntary” component of the program. CFIA, in conjunction with the horse industry, wishes to develop a program that can become more effective in reducing the presence of this disease.  There is concern that the disease continues to exist in populations that are rarely tested.  CFIA is asking the industry to become more involved in encouraging Canada-wide testing.

Following a meeting between the CFIA veterinarians tasked with addressing control of this disease and EC representatives, EC was asked to answer a series of questions. One question asked of us is if industry would like CFIA to perform quarantines on higher risk trace out animals (i.e. those who had been in contact with several known positive horses or in contact with an animal showing clinical signs). This would mean that all horses that had been exposed under these circumstances in the 30 days prior to the positive test date, would be quarantined on their current premises. The quarantine would be lifted once the exposed animal received a negative test result at least 45 days after the date of the last possible exposure.

The response we received throughout EC was that we were not comfortable with potential quarantining of low risk horses. The reasoning was that we were concerned about the economic impact this would have, often for a low risk transmission situation (such as non- fly season or horses never in close proximity).

However, are we comfortable with CFIA applying quarantine to high risk trace out animals, as specified above? Can we suggest that this should only be applied if the exposure is during a high transmission season or at a barn where the same needle has been used for multiple horses?

Additionally, CFIA has asked Equine Canada to consult with industry on the following approaches: 

1.    If during an investigation, an event where several horses were commingling is identified as being within the 30 day trace back, then instead of CFIA going in and testing all horses that were at said event, we will issue a letter to the organizers and inform them of the potential exposure.  The onus will be on them to contact and inform all of their participants of the risk and strongly recommend they follow up with their accredited vet for testing.  It has been suggested that this approach only be used for events that DID NOT require a NEG EIA certificate for registration.  This way, those who do testing, are rewarded and the message is clear that the organizers of events and horse owners need to do their part in controlling the spread of the disease.  This can be applied to horses that have a lower risk of exposure.

Please note: If we are not comfortable with CFIA taking responsibility for high risk horses, this approach would be applied in that circumstance as well.

2.     The second letter is for those situations where an individual has been identified during an epidemiological study as being at “high risk” of exposure but they fall outside of our 30 day trace back period.  The letter will inform them that their horse(s) has/have potentially been exposed and they should follow up with their accredited veterinarian.  We will be including those who could have been exposed during the previous fly season and this approach will be used for events as well so that people are made aware of the risks. Obviously if during this follow up testing a positive is identified, the CFIA will do the mandatory disease control response.

The CFIA will continue to follow up on trace outs; it is just limiting it to those within the 30 days prior to the positive test sampling date.  The exception to this would be if there is a commingling event identified within those 30 days. The proposal is to notify organizers with a letter, as opposed to the CFIA being responsible for testing all horses at the event.  If there is a horse identified OUTSIDE of the 30 days but it is considered to be “high risk” due to the circumstances identified during an epidemiological study, then they will also get a notification letter, to follow up with testing with their accredited veterinarian.

We are asking for your feedback on these changes, as well as specific comments on the attached letters, BY Friday, January 27th. We kindly ask that associations summarize their members’ feedback and make one submission. The input we receive will be submitted to the CFIA on your behalf.

Example Letters:

LETTER ONE

(Owner Address)
(Date)

Dear (Owner),

We are writing to inform you that during a disease investigation for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), you have been identified as owning a horse, or horses, that has/have been in contact with a horse that is confirmed to be infected with EIA. This disease is transmitted between horses by the exchange of blood and bodily fluids. Horses that commingle with infected animals are at risk due to, but not limited to, the activities of biting flies such as horse and deer flies.

EIA is a federally reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act and any animal suspected of having the disease is to be reported to the CFIA. This is a disease that can cause death in horses in its most acute form and if a horse is infected, they are infected for life and serve as a reservoir for other susceptible animals. For more information about the disease you can go to our website at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/equianem/equianeme.shtml

The current EIA program was developed in response to a request from the Canadian Horse Industry to help protect its horses and maintain their competitiveness by respecting International Health Requirements. It has a voluntary component which requires owners to take responsibility for testing their horses and practice good biosecurity measures to prevent the disease. An example of such measures could include requiring negative EIA test results when purchasing or introducing a new horse. The CFIA is responsible for the mandatory response component of the program and once a positive horse is detected the appropriate disease control measures are implemented.

The CFIA strongly recommends that you contact your accredited veterinarian and have your horse(s) tested for EIA so as to help stop the spread of the disease among our national herd.

If you require further information, please contact this office.

(Signature of District Veterinarian)
(Address and Telephone Number)

Letter Two
(Organization Address)
(Date)

Dear (Organization/President),

The CFIA is writing to inform you, the event organizer, that a horse confirmed to be infected with Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), attended the James Smith Chuckwagon competition on August 26-28 of 2011. Other equine participants at the event could have been exposed to the EIA virus by means of fly transmission or any other practices where blood or body fluids were exchanged.

EIA is a federally reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act and any animal suspected of having the disease is to be reported to the CFIA. This is a disease that can cause death in horses in its most acute form and if a horse is infected, they are infected for life and serve as a reservoir for other susceptible animals. For more information about the disease you can go to our website at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/equianem/equianeme.shtml

The current EIA program was developed in response to a request from the Canadian Horse Industry to help protect its horses and maintain their competitiveness by respecting International Health Requirements. It has a voluntary component which requires owners to take responsibility for testing their horses and practice good biosecurity measures to prevent the disease. An example of such measures could include requiring negative EIA test results when entering competitions. The CFIA is responsible for the mandatory response component of the program and once a positive horse is detected the appropriate disease control measures are implemented.

The CFIA strongly recommends that the event organizing committee inform all participants at the competition of the potential exposure and recommend they contact their accredited veterinarian and have their horses tested for EIA.

If you require further information, please contact this office.

(Signature of District Veterinarian)
(Address and Telephone Number)

Comments

  1. As a member of SHF and EC it comes as a bit of a surprise that I only became aware of this 2 1/2 months after the fact, and quite by accident at that.
    I agree, a reassessment is long overdue. The test and destroy program in its various forms has never been popular as evidenced by the fact that less than 2% of the tests performed in Canada or the US are actual voluntary tests, eg. not as a requirement to attend a show, cross the international boundry, etc.
    Surely when the “horse industry” consults with the CFIA on this matter, the obvious opinion of the owners of the untested eighty-five percent will be considered. Please read the results of the research from the last fifty years. Anyone who takes part in any decision is negligent if they don’t study all the information available.

  2. We have condensed some information on Equine Infectious Anemia on a web site at this address: http://www.eiahorse.com
    We welcome any comments.

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