Equine Infectious Anemia

Incurable... but preventable.

Information for horse owners

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or swamp fever is a viral disease of horses, donkeys and mules. The disease is only occasionally fatal, with most equids showing few or no clinical signs.
Once infected, members of the equine family remain carriers for life and are a potential source of infection for other horses, donkeys and mules. Because this is a lifelong infection, EIA is a reportable disease in Canada. 

What to look for in your horse

Horses and other members of the equine family become infected by blood from an infected horse. Insects feed on an infected horse and then transfer the virus to uninfected horses.
The disease can also be transferred by humans through contaminated needles or surgical equipment.
Symptoms include anorexia, depression, weight loss, general weakness, intermittent fever, jaundice, small hemorrhages under the tongue, eye and on mucous membranes and swelling of extremities. Members of the equine family may show all of the symptoms, only a few or no symptoms at all. 


Testing for EIA is by a blood test commonly referred to as a Coggins test. Accredited veterinarians will submit blood samples for a Coggins test in suspect animals.
The equine industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) share responsibility for detection and control of the disease in Canada. CFIA responds to any positive cases but routine surveillance is done through voluntary testing for shows, competitions and sporting events. 


There is no treatment for EIA. Positive horses are humanely euthanized or quarantined for life. The quarantine facility must be approved by CFIA and the infected animal cannot have contact with any EIA negative horses.
Equids are social animals and this strict quarantine can be very stressful for them and their owner. 


There are no vaccines available in Canada for the prevention of EIA. Prevention is accomplished by regular testing for EIA by horse owners.
It is strongly recommended that organizers of horse shows, racetracks, rodeos, clinics and trail rides require a current negative EIA test certificate. 

Additional Resources


For more information, or if you suspect any animal health related concerns, please contact the Chief Veterinary Office or call 204-945-7663 in Winnipeg